U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Yulia Benson, bandsman, 40th Army Band, Vermont Army National Guard plays during a concert. (Courtesy photo)

By Staff Sgt. Nathan Rivard

Name: Staff Sgt. Yulia Benson
Military Specialty: 42R, Bandsman.
Piano/Percussion 40th Army Band
Hometown: Kazan, Russia
Current town: Milton
Years of service: 11

Q. Why did you join the National Guard?

A. I was looking for the job. I filled couple applications on-line, the next thing I know is the recruiter was calling me. The National Guard sounded like a great gig, so I joined right away and never regretted my decision.

Q. What do you do in the National Guard?

A. I cover admin and supply for the band full-time and once a month, when the band gets together I play keyboard and percussion.

Q. What do you do for civilian work?

A. I work full-time for the 40th Army Band.

Q. What do you think is the greatest benefit of being in the National Guard?

A. Wearing uniform every day, you don’t need to think what to put on. But on the serious note Guard work has a lot of benefits, including G.I. Bill, health insurance, child care subsidy.

Q. How has being a National Guard member benefited you in your local community and job?

A. Guard teaches you to adjust quickly to whatever obstacles life brings you, always have plan B and appreciate basic things that we too often take for granted. Guardsmen do deploy to war zones and some pay the ultimate sacrifice.

Q. What is your most memorable military moment?

A. Performing at the State House in Montpelier. We play there once a year, and it never gets old.

Q. How long have you lived in Vermont?

A. 11 years, In Milton since 2010.

Q. What is your favorite aspect of living and working where you do?

A. I like Milton because it is really close to Camp Johnson where I work. Although Milton is not a very big city, it has a lot to offer. There are nature walks, playgrounds, martial art centers, dancing studios, gym, churches etc. I really enjoy the local library and school, where I spend a lot of hours with my kids. There are so many events that Milton organizes for families. The town is really community oriented.

Q. What has surprised you about the Guard?

A. The feeling of being part of the close-knit family. Not every unit has it, but band has always been like that for me. I know that I can call each member of my unit in the middle of the night if I need their help and they will show up.

Q. What is your favorite part about serving?

A. Serving the nation through music.

Q. How many push-ups did you get on your last physical fitness test?

A. 45

Q. BONUS: Ask a question for the next soldier or airman.

A. Would you want your kids to serve?

“Meet your Guard” is a new feature in the Independent, provided by the Vermont National Guard. Each month, we’ll feature another soldier or airman. Stay tuned!