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Speaking, appearance requests require careful consideration

  • Published
  • By Maj. Dennis Fournier
  • State Public Affairs Officer
Because Nevada Guardsmen are very visible members of the community where they both serve and reside, it's very common for Soldiers and Airmen to receive requests to attend and speak at a variety of civilian functions and events.

Before accepting an invitation to participate in a civic event, there are several legal and social questions to consider. A Soldier or Airman's commander as well as multiple National Guard state offices should be informed about the request and approve one's participation.

At the very least, the state public affairs office and the judge advocate general's office should be notified about a Guardsman's potential participation in a civic event as well as the respective commander. The offices will consider a variety of circumstances surrounding the request, including the question: Is the requesting organization controversial, exclusive in its secular beliefs, criminal, political, or back a special interest that sheds an unfavorable light on the military?

In addition to scrutinizing the requesting agency, the offices will analyze the topic of discussion surrounding any speaking request.

When receiving a request to speak, one should consider the best subject matter expert for the topic of discussion. Sometimes, it may be best to set aside one's ego and recommend an alternate speaker. A true subject matter expert exudes both credibility and trust and generates continued support for the National Guard.

Guardsmen can only speak within the limits of their authority. That means military members cannot discuss policy or opine about the National Guard or elected leadership, nor can they discuss tactics, techniques and procedures surrounding military mission. Usually, Nevada Guardsmen do not have the authority to speak on behalf of the organization or the parent service unless sanctioned by officials at the state headquarters.

The PAO and JAG also often consider the appropriateness of the wear of a military uniform at a non-military function. The consideration is highly nuanced and the answer often begins with: "It depends..." It is not always appropriate, regardless of duty status, to wear a uniform at an event.

To keep the public affairs office apprised on requests, potential speakers should visit the Nevada National Guard state webpage at www.nv.ngb.army.mil/nvng/, hover over the Public Affairs tab, then select Speaker Requests and follow the instructions.

The notification via the internet is an easy way for the public affairs office to receive the information and begin the vetting process to determine the efficacy, appropriateness and legality of the request.

Because many of the questions to be considered by potential speakers concern ethics, the JAG makes the final approval decisions.

For information, call the public affairs office at (775) 887-7252 or the judge advocate general's office at (775) 887-7869.