By Lt. Col. Gleb Gluhovsky
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 108th Aviation
I came to the United States as a refugee from the Soviet Union in 1991 and became an American citizen in 1995. In 1999, I decided to join the Kansas Army National Guard to show my appreciation for the newly found American freedom.
In a span of just three years, I went from an enlisted combat medic to a commissioned physician assistant. During my military career, I was blessed with serving with Soldiers in artillery, medical, infantry and finally aviation. Three deployments and 20 years later, I found myself wondering if the end was in sight.
My wife of more than 20 years has been with me through three long deployments. My kids got used to their dad missing their birthdays and graduations due to deployments, annual training, overseas training missions, natural disasters and such. The whole family looked at the last 20 years and thought that, perhaps, now would be the time for Dad to retire.
The timing could not have been worse. A mere two years ago, I discovered the awesome job of an aeromedical physician assistant and fell in love with the great Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 108th Aviation. A long and brutally honest conversation with my family resulted in my decision to part ways with the Guard in November.
Then, a novel virus turned things upside down just a month later. I never imagined having worked as an emergency medicine physician assistant for 18 years that, in a blink of an eye, I would find myself severely underemployed during a time of an unprecedented pandemic. Yet this is exactly what happened.
On April 17, I worked my last shift in the emergency department after being told that I am officially laid off until next month. Thirty percent of my income just evaporated. Things seemed pretty bleak, until the next day I received a phone call from Col. Michelle Hannah, commander of Joint Task Force Ready Guardian, asking me to come on orders to help with the COVID-19 pandemic in Kansas.
And so, once again, I found myself relying on the National Guard to help my family while I am out helping the good people of Kansas. After being rescued by the Kansas National Guard in these times of income loss and uncertainty, I have reevaluated my decision to retire. I spoke with my wife and we mutually agreed to postpone my retirement from the Guard indefinitely.
I am grateful to have been given an opportunity to lead a COVID-19 testing team in western Kansas and will be returning to 1-108th after the end of mission. Knowing that the Guard saved my bacon just when I nearly became unemployed was enough of a wake-up call to realize that now is not the time to leave.
Thanks for having my six! I'm looking forward to serving with all of you for a long time to come. The Guard relationship is not an easy one, but is a keeper, nonetheless. The COVID-19 pandemic proved to have a silver lining after all.