Full Transcript is Below:
– Hi, I’m NFM TV’s Greg Sher. Since he was a small boy growing up in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, our November 2021 NFM Salute always wanted to be a soldier. So on his 18th birthday, he joined the Army. 27 years later, this past July, Sergeant Major Matt Krenz retired. He saw and learned a lot during his nearly three decades in service, and he joins us now to share his journey. Matt, thanks for agreeing to be our November NFM Salute and thank you for your service.
– Thank you so much, Greg. I appreciate this opportunity to talk with you today.
– Very excited myself. I’ve gotten to know you very well in preparation for this, and you’re really inspirational. You learned a lot of great lessons, and now you’re continuing to serve, which we’ll get into in a moment, but want to take you back to the decision as a young man to serve. You knew very early on. What went into that? Did you have other family members that serve? What motivated you at that young age?
– I had two grandfathers that served in the military, one in the Army and one in the Navy, and through their stories and their example, they just kind of left that passion for me to want to go ahead and serve just like they did. I was definitely excited to be able to do it. And 27 years later with no regrets. For me, it was definitely the right decision.
– And so you were deployed overseas in Afghanistan, 2009, 2010, also Kuwait in 2009. What’s your memory of those times?
– Deployments are a very unique experience. You don’t know what to expect. Anytime you go on any sort of overseas deployment, let alone, you know, deployed to a combat area of operation, but the nerves to be very honest, come back to the family that you’re leaving behind. My wife at the time was pregnant with our fifth child. I was nervous to leave her at home with four other little ones, and one on the way.
– What’s that like for you emotionally now? Is that still something you think about?
– You can’t make up for time lost. For me, unfortunately, you know, stress with deployments were definitely tough on my spouse. As a result, she went into labor very, very early and my son was born about seven weeks before he was supposed to be. And unfortunately, I wasn’t there for the birth and that’s something that I can’t get back. You know, you talked Greg about a sacrifice, and for me as a soldier, for as long as I was, the buzzword that you hear is service and sacrifice. For me, Greg, I served for 27 years. My family was one that had the many sacrifices. It’s very, very different. They’re uprooting and having to make new friends and new acquaintances. So it definitely forces you to look at yourself and make sure that you’re being the person that you want to be for your family.
– You made a commitment when you retired from the military to continue serving in the capacity that you’re in today, as the Executive Director of The Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States of America, also known as EANGAS. You decided to leave the army a year before you had envisioned for this incredible opportunity. The National Guard, you and I have talked about, is very misunderstood, very undervalued, very underappreciated. Why did you take on this role and what do you want everyone to know about the National Guard?
– The biggest thing is your National Guard service members are your neighbors. They’re in your communities. They are there with you. You know, when there’s times of need, they’re there to answer the call. There is no branch of the service like the National Guard. There’s no branch of the service that will put their life on hold to deploy overseas for a combat zone and also do the same type of thing, but deploy to someplace in the continental United States to defend their local communities. And so, these individuals are willing to go ahead and drop what they’re doing, and their families are willing to sacrifice.
– Matt, in your current capacity with the association, what are the key things that you’re working on that you want us to know about that eventually will help benefit the National Guard?
– I am devoted to ensuring that those that are taking care of us are getting taken care of themselves, and that’s why I’m here. And that’s why my association will continue to ensure that these National Guard service members, retirees, Veterans, and their families, are being taken care of and getting the things they need to, to be successful. They have issues where spouse’s have lost jobs. They have financial issues. And one of the big things that we really focus on here is making sure that these National Guard service members that are having financial issues, have an avenue or a vehicle to be able to get some financial assistance in order to help them through these tough times. And so, that’s really been things that we have been focusing on recently.
– I asked you about some life lessons when we were getting ready for this conversation. You gave me three that I want to touch on. Don’t get too high or too low,. Mind is stronger than you think. And regulate your emotions. Which one of those do you want to tackle, and tell us a little bit more about?
– Your mind is stronger than your body, and as long as you will yourself to continue moving forward, whether it’s fatigue, whether it’s tired, whether it’s injury, it’s shocking how your body will go ahead and cooperate and move forward. And you exhibit and you exemplify that throughout your military career. As a senior leader within the military, you have to be able to show that resiliency, that toughness.
– I’m going to put you on the spot here. And I’m just gonna bring up three events that have occurred fairly recently, and I want your reaction. Are you ready?
– January 6th, 2021.
– Sadness. As of January 6th, of 2021, the National Guard had over 120,000 service members deployed on January 6th, not for the January 6th incident, but I’m talking across the globe, across the country. And within Washington DC, 120,000 people mobilized for some sort of activity. That’s the largest single mobilization or activation of the National Guard since World War II.
– The full withdraw from Afghanistan, a place you personally served.
– Again, it’s very sad for military service members when you’re performing a job and it’s your blood and sweat, and tears, to see something that you fought so hard for disappear, it makes you sad. And for many of us service members we find support within one another. It’s very difficult to talk with people that have not been over there or don’t understand what it’s like when you make that choice to serve and especially to go to a combat location. I honestly pray for the people within Afghanistan and I pray for our service members that they’re able to stay strong.
– And finally, the recent passing of General Colin Powell.
– He was an amazing man, had amazing vision. His keys for leadership are something that even, even me as someone that necessarily did not directly work with him, you knew about what those leadership skills or attributes were going to be. He was a great man not only as a military service leader, but as a government servant and another individual that wanted to continue to give back to this great country.
– Well, I’ve really enjoyed this conversation with you. It’s been really incredible, enlightening. I know our audience has really enjoyed it, and I just want to thank you so much for your time from Washington D.C. today. Retired Sergeant Major, Matt Krenz. Thank you very much for your service and for agreeing to be our November, 2021, NFM Salute.
– Thank you so much, Greg. I appreciate it.
– I’m NFM TV’s Greg Sher. We’ll see you again next time.