By Staff Sgt. Mike R. Smith, Guard Times Staff

LATHAM — Thousands of New York National Guard members have experienced combat overseas. Many more walked the ruins of 9/11 and natural disasters including hurricane Katrina. What’s familiar between them is the burden of “Critical Incident Stress,” a stress that’s different from starting a new job or being stuck in traffic.

By Staff Sgt. Mike R. Smith, Guard Times Staff

MANHATTAN – Several armed Soldiers stand outside a street entrance to Pennsylvania Station August 4 amidst the daily hustle and bustle. Positioned in an out-of-the-way area, they are mostly left alone. But from Penn Station’s seemingly endless flow of travelers, an occasional passerby emerges to say “thank you.”

“You guys are doing a great job,” one woman proclaims as she passes them.

“Thank you, ma’am,” they reply, in unison.

In the weeks following the deadly London transit system bombings and a failed repeat of those bombings there, a “surge force” of New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen were on watch at various mass transit stations across the State, including New York City’s vast metropolitan area.

By Staff Sgt. Mike R. Smith, Guard Times Staff

MINEKILL STATE PARK, Blenheim, N.Y. – On a hillside overlooking New York’s Schoharie Valley, olive-colored Army construction equipment groaned amidst brown wafts of dusty afternoon air as engineers leveled several piles of dark dirt. They worked steadily and with purpose. If bags of awaiting grass seed took root before the first frost, valley residents would have a new soccer field to play on in the coming year.

Soldiers from the 204th Engineer Battalion, New York Army National Guard, placed the finishing touches on a GuardHELP project July 29 for Minekill State Park and its surrounding community.