Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
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Where would I serve?
You would most likely serve in one
of the numbered Brigades, 1-5, depending on your home location. See
the Brigades page for the headquarters location
of each Brigade. Also, if you live in the metro Atlanta area, you may
be assigned to the Support Group, Medical Detachment, or GSDF Headquarters.
Who can join?
Q: How old do I have to be to volunteer for the
Georgia State Defense Force?
A: 18-64 years of age.
Q: Do I have to have military experience?
A: No: Approximately half of the GSDF personnel have prior military service, approximately half have none.
Q: Do I have to go to boot camp?
A: No: The GSDF provides Initial Entry Training to new
members, but it does not entail the rigorous physical training of the Armed
Services. We encourage volunteers to stay healthy and physically fit, and
some GSDF units do provide an organized fitness/wellness training and
Q: Do I have to have previous Red Cross training?
Q: Do I have to attend every drill/meeting?
A: When you make your commitment to join the GSDF, you
are expected to attend all drills.
However, family, work, and other obligations are understood; typically as
long as members inform
their immediate leadership of a conflict, there is not a problem, unless
several drills are missed.
If a member regularly misses drills without prior
notification or excuse, they will be dropped from active membership and
required to return their identification credentials.
Q: Will I carry a weapon?
A: No: Currently, the GSDF is not a "tactical" or armed,
war fighting, or peacekeeping organization. Members are prohibited from
carrying weapons while wearing the uniform.
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What will Duty Requirements be?
Q: How much time will I spend on GSDF activities?
A: The standard annual drill and training activity
includes: one drill day per month (usually a Sunday), with one month per
quarter having two drill days (Saturday and Sunday), plus 1-2 days of Annual
Training (usually Saturday/Sunday). This totals up to approximately 17 days
In addition, opportunities for missions and optional
training, including NCO and Commissioned Officer/OCS schools can add several
more days per year. Adding up the above typically means 2 days per month,
especially if the member takes on a unit leadership role.
Q: Do I have to commit to serving for any minimum amount of time?
A: We ask that each member commit to at least one year of
service. Many members have served for years and even decades because of
their personal satisfaction in serving their fellow Georgians, the
camaraderie of service, and the personal growth that comes from knowledge
gained and new skills learned.
What is a typical drill day like?
A: Schedules vary between units. Some drill on Saturdays,
some on Sundays. An ordinary drill day begins at 0800 (8:00 AM) or 0900
(9:00 AM), concluding around 1600 (4:00 pm). The location is typically the
headquarters location for the Brigade or other unit; some individuals serve
their drill days at an Air Reserve Base, National Guard Armory, or other
Drills often begin by a formation and inspection, with
remarks or Q&A led by the commanding officer. METL-focused training and
planning sessions make up the bulk of the day, with a lunch break around
Q: Doesn’t the GSDF use a military organizational
structure, with rank, uniforms and standing in formation?
A: Yes - we are very proud
of our affiliation with the Georgia Department of Defense and the Georgia
National Guard. GSDF uses a military command structure, uniforms and
etiquette to ensure that emergency services are deployed in an organized,
rapid and effective manner. Following military protocol also provides an
excellent framework for delivering training to the volunteers and
maximizing the use of volunteers’ skills. Safety of the volunteer members
very important, and a good military organization emphasizes this with
training, teamwork and accountability. So it is with GSDF.
Q: What uniform do I wear?
A: The standard uniform is
the Army Combat Uniform (ACU), the typical American soldier’s camouflage fatigue uniform. It is
worn during drill and during GSDF service missions. This includes a
blouse, trousers, belt, T-shirt, beret (or field cap) and boots.
Q: Do I have to furnish my own uniform?
A: Yes, usually. The uniform situation varies from unit to unit. By the
time you have assembled one set of all items, you might expect to have paid
as much as $80 to $100, but probably no more than $140. Blouses, trousers
and belts can be purchased from local Army-Navy supply store or on the
internet. One set will be
adequate for most volunteers. Boots may be the highest cost item, and it
is not a good idea to cut corners on buying boots.
Q: Where would I buy the insignia for the
uniforms, collars, hats, etc?
A: Virtually all insignia
can be obtained from the GSDF supply at headquarters. Name tapes and some
other items are available at Army-Navy supply stores and on the internet.
Q: What training will I receive?
A: That depends on your
eventual assignment within the GSDF. All volunteers will receive
fundamental instruction in first aid, CPR, land navigation, military
etiquette and communications. You will coordinate additional training with
your commanding officer or 1st sergeant.
Q: The GSDF volunteers all meet to train together
once a year. Is this mandatory? What happens there?
A: The Georgia State Defense Force
provides training in many aspects of community service and emergency
preparedness. Some of the training is easily provided in classroom or
small-group settings at the monthly drill sites. At the 2006 Annual
Training exercise in Ft. Stewart, GA, volunteers were taught fundamentals in
traffic control, fire suppression, crowd control. Instructors were top law enforcement and military professionals
and also your fellow GSDF volunteers with many years of experience.
Perhaps the most valuable part of the annual training is being engaged in
meaningful training activities with other dedicated Georgians.
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Q: What kind of work do GSDF members do?
A: GSDF members train and serve the State of Georgia in a
variety of ways, from providing safety and traffic control at public
events, to assisting at military unit deployment ceremonies, to manning
Emergency Operations Centers during times of natural disaster.
See the About GSDF page for more
Q: Where is the GSDF located?
A: Volunteers meet at
several locations around the state, typically at National Guard armories.
The GSDF headquarters is located at the Georgia National Guard Headquarters
in Atlanta, not far from the Grant Park/Atlanta Zoo. Commonly known as
"Confederate Avenue", this is also a monthly meeting site for volunteers.
Q: How is my unit assignment determined?
A: Your unit assignment is based on a combination of
geographical location, capabilities, education, prior military service,
interests, and the current needs of the GSDF and its subsidiary units.
GSDF’s G-1, or Personnel Section, has oversight of this process.
Q: How is my rank determined?
A: New members provide detailed information on prior
military service, educational and occupational background, special skills,
and interests. Rank (Non-Commissioned Officer, Warrant Officer, or
Commissioned Officer) is determined by an Appointment Board based on these
Final approval is issued by the
Adjutant General of the State of Georgia.
Q: How are promotions considered and
A: Just as in the Armed Services, there are educational, performance,
time-in-grade, and unit needs standards that determine promotion
eligibility. The process is based on a formal recommendation made by the
member's commander, which is then evaluated by a promotions board in
combination with the above criteria.
Q: I’ve never served in the military and donít know much about it. Is
it hard to learn what I need to know?
A: There is much to learn, but the GSDF is experienced in
and committed to providing training at a pace that is suitable for almost
all members. You will be working with instructors and fellow volunteers that
have many years of military service to help you become acclimated to
military organization and the "rules of the road".
GSDF members honor the work and commitment of the United States Armed
Forces by wearing the uniform proudly and carrying themselves with
professional and military bearing.
In order to assist all members, each GSDF recruit is provided a small
reference book to be carried at all times, which provides a wealth of
information on uniform wear and appearance, basic movements and marching,
military etiquette, and other information essential to daily operations.
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