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NR policeman joins National Guard

Lillian and John Schuette will be apart for about seven months as the New Richmond police officer trains for his new position with the Army National Guard.

New Richmond police officer John Schuette is taking a break from serving the community to begin serving his country.

Schuette left Tuesday to begin basic training at Fort Knox, Ky. He has joined the Army National Guard at the age of 29 and is excited about the new challenges he will face in the coming months.

Schuette, who has worked in the New Richmond Police Department since 2003 (he went full time in November 2007), said he's always wanted to join the military.

"When I was younger, I was just too heavy to join," he said. "But I've gotten in shape and lost weight. I'm looking forward to this."

Schuette said he understands he'll be training with many soldiers 10 years younger than him, but he's motivated to do the best job he can.

"I think the leadership skills that I bring back with me will help me in my job here," Schutte said. "And my experience in the Guard will hopefully help the community too."

He said training in security and natural disaster response would come in handy in case of emergencies close to home.

"And if I'm ever deployed overseas, it will be my chance to help my country," he said.

Following basic training, Schuette will attend advanced training in Fort Gordon, Ga. He hopes to become a signal support specialist, working with communications systems and radios.

"I like computers," he said. "I was looking for a job related to IT and networking."

When he gets back to his job as a police officer, Schuette said his specialized communications training could come in handy as well.

"I'm hoping it will help the department," he said.

The only drawback to his decision to join the Guard, Schuette admits, is having to leave his wife, Lillian, for seven months. The couple just married in September of 2008.

"My wife will have to hold down the fort while I'm gone," he said.

"I'm going to miss him," Lillian responded. "But I'm proud of him for making this decision, and it will benefit both of us in the long run."

Schuette said he also joined the National Guard for the organization's strong educational benefits. He holds a two-year degree at present, but he hopes to return to school in the future to gain a more advanced degree.

Schuette said he's thankful to work for a community that has signed on as an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve backer. The city is apparently considering ways it can better support the police officer while he is away for military duty.

"As an employee, sometimes you're kind of punished for helping out your country," Schuette said.

ESGR employers commit to support soldiers above and beyond the minimum federal standards by providing extended benefits, filling pay gaps or maintaining vacation and seniority levels.

"I would hope other employers will do the same to support their employees who are deployed or sent to training," Schuette said.