Alabama National Guard

Governor Robert Bentley is declaring a state of emergency ahead of a winter storm expected to bring snow, ice, and freezing rain to the region.

Thirty Alabama counties stretching from the Tennessee border to Birmingham and Tuscaloosa are under a winter storm warning from 9 AM until midnight today.

Tim Troutman is the lead forecaster at Huntsville’s National Weather Service. He says everyone in the warning area should prepare for a lot of snow.

Training drills for tens of thousands of Army National Guard members from New Hampshire to Hawaii have been called off this weekend because of a federal budget shortfall.

A National Guard spokesman says a $101 million gap in funding for training is being addressed by postponing drills, suspending travel and other steps. Meanwhile, there are efforts underway to get funding reallocated so the drills can be held later this month.

The Governor's Office

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has presented honors to members of the state's National Guard who perform military services during funerals for fallen veterans.

Bentley signed an executive order creating the Alabama Honor Guard Ribbon Monday afternoon and presented honor guard members with the awards at the state Capitol.

The honor guard members are responsible for performing military ceremonies during funerals for eligible veterans. The ceremonies usually include the folding and presentation of an American flag to the veterans' next of kin, and the playing of Taps.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has declared a state of emergency in response to a severe weather system that crossed the state.

Bentley said in a statement Monday evening that the declaration covers every county in Alabama, and that heavy damage has been reported in some areas that were in the path of a suspected tornado.

Bentley says all state agencies are ordered "to take necessary actions to respond to Alabama communities that need help."

The governor says 100 Alabama National Guard members are on stand-by and are ready to help in impacted areas if necessary.

Gov. Robert Bentley says two National Guard wreckers have been dispatched to Interstate 65 near Cullman to help clear jackknifed 18-wheelers that blocked northbound traffic.

The governor says one lesson learned from the Jan. 28 ice storm was to get National Guard wreckers organized early to pull stalled vehicles to the side of the road until the weather clears and the owners can reclaim them.

Alabama Department of Transportation spokesman Tony Harris says the state has brought in contractor crews to assist with snow removal across north Alabama counties.

Alabama National Guard

Maj. Gen. Sheryl Gordon has retired after a 32-year career in the Alabama Army National Guard during which she became the first and still only woman general in the organization's history.

She also was one of only two women major generals in the Army Guard nationally.

The 56-year-old Gordon lives on Lake Martin and grew up in Selma. She also has retired from a long career as a teacher and administrator at Benjamin Russell High School in Alexander City.

Alabama National Guard

Most, but not all, full-time staff of the Alabama National Guard is covered by a new Pentagon policy providing benefits for same-sex couples.

Capt. Andrew Richardson of the Alabama National Guard says there are about 2,500 full-time Guardsmen in Alabama who are considered federal employees and are eligible for federal benefits. They are covered by the Pentagon's new policy.

He says the Guard has fewer than 300 full-time employees who are considered state employees, and they continue to receive state benefits. Those benefits don't cover same-sex marriages.

Alabama National Guard

Another Alabama National Guard unit is getting ready to go to Afghanistan.

The 1103rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion out of Eufaula will deploy overseas after training at a mobilization station.

A departure ceremony is planned for Saturday morning at Lakepoint Resort in Eufaula. The unit will move overseas this fall.

In Afghanistan, the more than 60-member unit will help with closing bases and moving equipment and supplies.

More than 21,000 members of the Alabama Guard have been called to active duty in response to the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty Images

The Alabama National Guard says it will follow a Pentagon policy and honor requests for military benefits for same-sex couples.

A Guard spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Shannon Hancock, said Wednesday it's too early to say whether any benefit requests already have been processed.

But she says military attorneys and other leaders plan to follow Pentagon policy, even though Texas is refusing and Mississippi is setting conditions.

Alabama has a state law and a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman.

A large National Guard training center is planned for north Alabama.

   Gov. Robert Bentley and state Sen. Arthur Orr of Decatur announced that the training center will be developed on the old site of the Lurleen B. Wallace Developmental Center in Decatur. The facility was operated by the state Department of Mental Health until it closed a decade ago. The Department of Mental Health turned over the deed to the National Guard on Thursday.