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NEWS | June 10, 2022

Field Artillery officer highlights trust, teamwork in unit cohesion

By Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

Being a field artillery officer is what 1st Lt. Justin Riordan considers the best part of his service in the Virginia Army National Guard. What makes it so great, he said, is the teamwork.

“It takes many people working together, with a lot of tactical and technical knowledge, to observe and accurately hit a target with indirect fire,” he said.

Riordan’s military career stared in 2015, when he joined the National Guard while living in Washington, D.C., where he works at the Congressional Budget Office as a budget analyst. Originally from California, Riordan earned his commission through Officer Candidate School and wanted to branch into a career field that would have him doing something different than his civilian work.

“I accepted my commission in Virginia because I was looking to join a combat arms branch,” Riordan said.

Now, Riordan is deployed to the Middle East with the Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, which is responsible for the U.S. Central Command Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar Intercept Land-based Phalanx Weapon System mission. C-RAM is a set of systems used to detect and/or destroy incoming rockets, artillery, mortar rounds and other ordnance in the air before they hit their ground targets. The 1-111th FA took over the mission in March and expects to return to Virginia later this year.

In addition to starting to his military career in 2015, Riordan also met the man who would become his husband. The two met online and have now been married for four years.

“His support has been incredibly important to my service in the Virginia National Guard,” Riordan. “Without his support, I would not be able to dedicate the time that I have to the National Guard.”

For Riordan, LGBTQ+ Pride Month is all about being true to yourself so that you can not only trust and acceptance yourself, but others can fully trust and accept each member of their team.

“Having pride in yourself is especially important in an organization like the Army National Guard where we all have to trust each other to be successful as an organization,” he said. “If someone is struggling to have pride in themselves, they are going to struggle trusting others.”

Trust, he said, is the foundation of a unit.

“If you show people that you can perform the job, the trust and confidence in your abilities will follow.”

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