BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET)— “My father served in the Army, two of my brothers served in the Army,” 1st Lieutenant Nathan Rivard said.
In fact, Lt. Rivard said he found family military history going all the way back to the Spanish-American War. It’s one of the reasons why the Vermont native, and dual U.S. Army and Air National Guard veteran, decided to enlist, in addition to wanting to go to college. “But I didn’t have a way to pay for it. So, it was one of those I knew that the Army National Guard would pay for my college.”
While still in high school, Rivard needed to think about where he might excel when it came time to serve. “Big guns. That’s what I want to do. I was looking at artillery and I was looking at mortarman,” Rivard said.
Another responsibility caught his eye, however, it turned out to be news to him. “I saw broadcast journalist and at the time in high school, I had no idea what that meant. And the recruiter went: ‘Oh! That’s a phenomenal job,’ because he came from that work. And he said: ‘Those other jobs, you get to do those jobs. You get to go train with the units, work with them, but then you’re there with a camera,'” Rivard explained.
Just like a civilian journalist, Rivard says when it seems like there isn’t much of a story, it turns out to be the exact opposite. “One [story] that comes to mind was when I was deployed to Kosovo, I covered the story of an engineer, working on a bulldozer. And all he was doing was moving berms around to make a base better,” Rivard recalled. “But then I got to hear him, while he was deployed, call home to his wife and then have his daughter go to a website where we upload everything and watch that video. So, she got to see daddy on a bulldozer, who [sic] she hadn’t seen in six months,” Rivard said.
Though it’s turned into his passion, documenting what’s happening in the military is about much more than telling stories. “Ok. We’re paying taxes but what’s going on in North Dakota with that? People see it a lot with flood response or snow response and things like that, but what else are they doing and how can we learn about that? And that’s my job, is to help facilitate that for people on the civilian side,” Rivard said.
Speaking of which, Rivard divides his time by wearing different hats and outfits. “Monday through Friday, jacket, polo, maybe suit and tie depending on what we have going on and that’s really telling the National Guard story for the state of North Dakota. Then on the military side, as the commander of the public affairs detachment, it’s really just assisting the unit and giving them direction on what it is they can do to meet their objectives,” Rivard said.
Meeting his objective of helping get the North Dakota National Guard’s story out there is something 1st Lieutenant Rivard says he’s looking forward to.