Veteran Farmer Says National Guard Service Takes Grit
By Lura Roti
Fencing. In the days leading up to Cameron Lux’s 2021 deployment to the southern border, the Wetonka farmer and his mom and dad worked late into the night putting up fence so his cattle would have access to plenty of forage and water while he was away.
“We were given 10 days notice and I knew I’d be leaving my wife and our young son for more than two months and I didn’t want her to have to worry about the cattle,” explained Lux, who serves as a Sergeant in the South Dakota Army National Guard, 200th Engineer Company.
The fence held, and his cattle were content when Lux returned to his family’s farm Sept. 24, 2021.
Lux was among 50 South Dakotan Guardsmen deployed on a humanitarian mission to help border patrol with security as they worked to process hundreds as they crossed the border. Lux said many crossing the border were trying to escape cartel violence in Mexico.
“Ninety percent of the people we saw cross the border were women and children,” Lux said. “The hardest part was seeing the condition of the people coming across the border. We saw parents carrying their deceased children. It was very eye-opening and things you don’t hear about on the news.”
Safely home with his wife, Jessica, and young children: Jameson, 3, and Anderson, 1, the 2018 graduate of Northern State University said although this was a sad experience, he would not change his decision to serve in the Army National Guard.
“It is a way for me to serve my country and be a part of something that is bigger than my farm and hometown,” Lux explained. “As a National Guardsman we have two bosses, the President and the Governor of South Dakota.”
Lux joined the National Guard when he turned 18. A few weeks after high school graduation he found himself in Ft. Leonard Wood for Basic and Advanced Individual Training (AIT).
Although military training was an all together new experience, Lux said growing up on his family’s dairy and beef cattle farm prepared him well.
“A lot comes back to grit – putting your nose to the grindstone and getting to work. There is no substitute for the work ethic I learned on the farm. Money can’t buy it.”
After Basic and AIT training Lux was assigned to the 200th Engineer Company. The unit builds various bridges such as the improved ribbon bridges that can float and allow the military to move equipment and assets. Lux is a boat operator and fire team leader.
Lux said the work is fulfilling, but what he values most are the friendships he has made.
“It is difficult to describe the friendships I have made within the military. I would call it a brotherhood-something deeper than friendship,” he said. “They are my second family.”
Today, Lux runs a small cow/calf operation with his wife and works off the farm as a Farmers Union Insurance Agent. Lux said the benefits from his National Guard service helped him pay for college and provide him and his family with health insurance.
“I can sell health insurance and I still say the insurance I get through the Guards is the best I have seen,” Lux said.
And for their growing family, this is important. He and Jessica are expecting their third child this December.
“We always wanted a big family, but as our family grows and my business grows, serving in the Guards gets harder, but my wife supports me,” Lux said. “My service is also a sacrifice on her side.”
Reflecting on his decision to serve, Lux said, “It is truly the best steppingstone into adult life. I encourage all high school students to at least consider it.”
He added that if anyone has questions, they are more than welcome to reach out to him for an honest conversation. “I’m not a recruiter, so I will tell you the good and the bad.”