Sylva National Guard Unit prepares to deploy

(Photo credit: WLOS)

A mountain National Guard unit is preparing for deployment right after Thanksgiving.

The National Guard Armory in Sylva is home to the 210th military police.

There’s not an exact date, but the unit will deploy overseas after a mobilization ceremony Sunday afternoon at Western Carolina University.

Staff Sgt. Thomas Herman can't reveal where they're going or say much about the mission except it relates to guard duty. He said it's a 10-month deployment that involves the whole company, although he can't give the exact number of soldiers.

“Soldiers do this all the time,” he said. “But the loved ones, it's brand new for them. They'll say their last goodbyes and then we'll be getting ready to leave after that.”

About five guard members are students at Western Carolina University,

“Some of them may be able to do classes online. We won't know until they get to where they're going and see what their internet connection is like,” WCU Military Student Services director Briana Ford said.

Ford said they’ll get financial help.

“A lot of them qualify for Federal Tuition Assistance through the military. This particular unit happens to be Army. So, they would get Army tuition assistance,” she said.

Herman said he appreciates the community support, especially around Sylva.

“It's amazing here with the community, especially Sylva has come out to help us and get ready for this,” he said.

He said he’s also grateful to a group called Quilts of Valor, for making bag tags for the soldiers. For past deployments, he said the group made quilts for more than 30 soldiers.

Care packages are also being prepared, with donated supplies from the WCU campus and the community.

Herman said friends and family can say their goodbyes at the sendoff ceremony at 1 p.m. Sunday at Western Carolina University's Fine Arts Museum. The ceremony is open to the public.

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