COLUMBIA — Michael Haley – First Gentleman of S.C. and a S.C. Army National Guard officer – was recognized by the S.C. Youth ChalleNGe Academy Advisory Board during ceremonies at Fort Jackson’s McCrady Training Center, last month.
The recognition – for “extraordinary service” as chair of the Legislative Committee – was made Nov. 30 by Maj. Gen. Robert Livingston, the adjutant general of S.C.; before several cadet companies, Youth ChalleNGe cadre and staff, members of the Youth ChalleNGe Academy Advisory Board, and Gov. Nikki Haley.
Haley relinquished his post as chairman as he prepares to deploy to Afghanistan, as has been widely reported.
“Michael’s tireless and selfless work on the board as Legislative Affairs Committee chairman makes him the standard-bearer for us all,” said Lt. Col. Bill Connor, U.S. Army (Res.), a combat infantry officer (Ranger), an attorney, a partner with NATIONAL DEFENSE CONSULTANTS, LLC, and the incoming Legislative Affairs committee chairman. “I am honored to continue his service in this position during his absence. Youth ChalleNGe is critical to the future of South Carolina as an institution dedicated to giving our young men and women and second chance in life; A second chance through the inculcation of discipline and character by some of the finest trainers our state has to offer.”
Connor, who in 2007-2008 served as senior U.S. military advisor in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, added, “Our thanks and prayers are with Michael during his deployment. This is a critical time in our efforts to secure that war-torn nation before the U.S. leaves Afghanistan under the care of those Afghan security forces many of us have helped train. Michael’s experiences in both business and politics will pay off in what he will bring his unique mission to help Afghans transition their economy. God be with him and others deployed.”
Youth ChalleNGe (the upper case “NG” reflecting the National Guard’s oversight) is a program wherein at-risk teenagers ages 16–19 enter a five-month “quasi-military” academy, and – upon successful completion of the program return home with the values, skills, education, self-esteem and self-discipline to succeed as an adult. Time spent at the Youth ChalleNGe Academy is followed by a one-year mentoring phase to ensure the new graduates don’t slip back into the self-destructive environment that led them to the academy in the first place.