Missouri National Guard Soldier Receives National Recognition

By: Johnathan Lemons
Missouri National Guard

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - For Capt. Jason Kander, serving in the Army National Guard is not the only way he helps his fellow Missourians.

Kander serves as the State Representative for District 44, Kansas City, and works as a lawyer with the Barnes Law Firm. However, his service with the 140th Regional Training Institute as an Officer Candidate School Platoon Trainer is getting national attention. Kander is one of 10 finalists for the Army Reserve Association's Maj. Gen. Strom Thurmond Outstanding Junior Officer of the Year Award.

"He is an exceptional Soldier who is extremely competent, articulate, and very highly motivated," said Lt. Col. Michael Winkler, administrative officer for the 140th. "He is completely dedicated to the military service in general, and to the Officer Candidate School in particular. He devotes many extra hours of personal time to ensure he is the expert for every event that he teaches and evaluates."

Kander joined the military after September 11, 2001 because he saw a need to help his country.

"I was in Washington, DC on 9/11 and was standing in line to give blood when they came out and said they didn't have enough resources to take any more blood," said Kander. "I wanted to make a contribution and made a decision right then that I would join the Army and fit my civilian career around my service."

Kander enlisted in the Army National Guard with an infantry unit and later became a military intelligence officer in the Army Reserve. He served in Afghanistan as the Political-Military Intelligence Officer for Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan from 2006 to 2007 - replacing an officer five ranks his senior. He was charged with conducting classified intelligence investigations into corruption and espionage in the Afghan government.

In their official evaluations, his commanding officers in Afghanistan described as an outstanding leader that volunteered for dangerous assignments. The U.S. Director of Intelligence in Afghanistan advised the Army: "Watch this officer's career closely; he is one of the best." After returning home in 2007, Kander resumed his law practice and transferred to the Missouri Army National Guard.

"I'm a lawyer who spends a few days a month in the Army, but I feel more like a Soldier that happens to work in the civilian world most of the month," said Kander. "The Army is completely intertwined with who I am as a person - the experience and training I've received has made me more effective in every part of my career."

The Maj. Gen. Strom Thurmond award will be presented on February 9th in Washington, DC for recognition of excellence in achievement and service to the military, nation and national security.

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