Where to find facilities:
VA Montana has primary care clinics in Anaconda, Billings, Bozeman, Miles City, Glendive, Glasgow, Great Falls, Missoula, Kalispell and Cut Bank, which opened Jan. 7 and a new facility will soon be opening in Havre.
These toll-free hotlines offer immediate help:
• VA National Suicide Prevention Hotline
• National Guard Military One Source
• National VA Nurse Line (for health information)
866-369-8020. This number is answered 24/7.
To enroll in VA health care, call 406-447-7325 or toll-free 877-468-837 during week days to reach Fort Harrison in Helena. After hours, call 406-442-6410 and ask for the medical duty officer.
Guard to create new unit in Billings
By BECKY SHAY
Of The Gazette Staff
The Montana National Guard will establish a new unit in Billings on May 3.
The 1063rd Support Maintenance Company will be officially activated during a ceremony at 11 a.m. at the Billings Armed Forces Reserve Center on Gable Road.
The headquarters element of the 1063rd will be based in Billings, and subordinate units will be located at Dillon and Harlowton.
The company will have platoons for automotive, ground support equipment, missile and electronic repair as well as an attached test, measurement and diagnostic-equipment section. The entire unit will be staffed with about 185 soldiers, the majority of whom will be based in Billings.
The unit fits within the Montana National Guard's force structure and will provide another service to Montana, the nation and the Army, said Brig. Gen. John Walsh, adjutant general of the Montana guard.
"This new unit and its mission give us another asset for recruiting as well as providing a valuable mission to our state and nation," Walsh said.
The soldiers will spend about two years equipping and organizing the new unit to prepare it for conducting its directed missions.
The creation of the 1063rd SMC is part of the National Guard's "force structure restationing plan" which has been ongoing for two years, said Maj. Tim Crowe, the Montana guard's public affairs officer.
As part of the plan, guard leadership identified areas it was missing capabilities, areas in which its resources could be better used and those that help with recruiting.
One benefit of the 1063rd is the soldiers will work on a broad spectrum of equipment, Crowe said.
"This is a company of maintainers," he said.
"Their work allows equipment to stay mission-capable."
Another advantage is it will allow more opportunities women - specifically in the eastern half of Montana - to become soldiers.
Most of the units in this part of the state are combat-oriented, including field artillery units, which females cannot join.
There are about 2,700 soldiers in the Montana National Guard. Walsh and other leaders hope to recruit up to 300 more in the next few years.