As the highest ranking Non-Commissioned Officer in his Illinois Army National Guard unit, Jimmy Bahena works tirelessly to provide a support network to enlisted soldiers and their families. He listens to their concerns, counsels them through the stress and paperwork of deployment, trains and prepares them for their missions, and supports the spouses and children left behind during a deployment. “When we support these families every step of the way, our soldiers can rest assured that their families are in good hands, which allows them to focus on their mission of serving our country,” said Bahena.
Bahena’s efforts – and those of the nearly 200 servicemen and women in the Army National Guard’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in Normal, Illinois – were recognized Feb. 26, 2016 at the 16th Annual Reserve Family Readiness Award ceremony at the Pentagon. The Department of Defense established the program in 2000 to recognize the top unit in each Reserve component that demonstrates outstanding family readiness while maintaining superior mission readiness.
Illinois Congressman Darin LaHood attended the ceremony last month at the Pentagon, praising Bahena’s unit and their families for their sacrifice and bravery.
Bahena, who joined the Army 18 years ago, said it was humbling to be in one of the seven reserve units selected to receive this prestigious award. He has held various leadership positions and has been deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kuwait, Iraq, Italy, and Afghanistan over the course of his distinguished military career.
When he’s not serving as the First Sergeant for his National Guard unit, Bahena is busy at work as a Deportation Officer with ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations in Chicago. He joined ICE in 2007 as an Immigration Enforcement Agent and was promoted to his current position in 2015.