DuBOIS — Though it’s going to be difficult to leave his family and friends for nearly a year, state Rep. Matt Gabler said Thursday that he will be proud to serve his country in another way when he is deployed to the Middle East in early 2018 as part of his service as a captain in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.
“The position that I hold in the Army National Guard, the unit that I serve in is being mobilized for this mission, that is how I am going. The job that I do, which is usually a part-time job, next year will be full-time,” said Gabler, a Republican from DuBois. He represents the 75th District which consists of all of Elk County, as well as, in Clearfield County, the City of DuBois; the townships of Bloom, Bradford, Brady, Covington, Girard, Goshen, Graham, Huston, Karthaus, Lawrence (the Plymptonville precinct), Pine, Sandy and Union; and the borough of Falls Creek.
Gabler, who will leave behind his wife, Lisa, and 14-month-old daughter, Caroline, admitted he has mixed emotions about his upcoming deployment which is expected to cover most of the 2018 calendar year.
“It’s an honor to receive the call. There are obviously mixed feelings there when you have a wife and a daughter at home and certainly a lot of important work you can be doing in the community,” Gabler said.
He said he will miss his wife, Lisa, and young daughter “terribly,” as well as his family and friends.
“That’s the biggest trepidation,” Gabler said. “But I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t excited for an opportunity to serve in a new way, to be able to train the way I do. It’s going to be tough to say goodbye for a year to my wife and daughter. But it will also be exciting to be able to serve the Army in the way that they told me they need me. I feel very good about the fact that I have the opportunity to serve the way I promised to serve, to follow through with those responsibilities.”
Gabler serves as a medical logistics officer in the 28th Infantry Division Headquarters, the oldest division in the United States Army. He will join approximately 500 soldiers from his division in deploying to the Middle East.
The 28th Infantry Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion will be the third National Guard unit to provide mission command for several thousand troops supporting Operation Spartan Shield. This mission includes units conducting theater security cooperative activities and partnership operations in several countries throughout the Middle East. Additionally, the headquarters will conduct battle staff training directly with partner nation military units.
During his upcoming deployment, Gabler said he is making certain that his “office will continue to seamlessly serve the people of the 75th District with their state-related issues.”
“Whether serving in the Army or the state House, I am honored to do my part to help our country and communities, but I look forward to again taking up the duties of state representative when I return,” Gabler said. “As both a soldier and a state representative, I took an oath to support and defend the constitutions of the United States and Pennsylvania, and that is what I intend to do throughout this deployment. I am thankful that the people of Elk and Clearfield counties are so supportive of the men and women of our armed services. Having their support while I am deployed is something that will help sustain me during my time overseas.”
Gabler said his office will be the point of contact for his constituents.
“The Department of Defense has some pretty straight-forward rules about what can and can’t be done. I’ll be careful to follow those rules,” Gabler said. “I have communicated with the office that is responsible for legislative attendance and that sort of thing — the Office of Majority Whip — and made them aware that I will have this obligation in the coming year and they have made arrangements accordingly.”
When asked if he will be able to vote on legislative issues, Gabler said, “The State Constitution does not provide for or allow for ‘replacements’ for members of the General Assembly who are called away to military service. However, as history has shown with legislators such as former State Rep. (now Congressman) Scott Perry, State Rep. Nick Miccarelli, and former State Senator John Pippy, their constituencies were all well-served, and we are making every provision to ensure that the citizens of Elk and Clearfield Counties will receive seamless constituent services during this military deployment.”
Gabler has served as an officer in the 28th Infantry Division, since 2012. He was commissioned as an Army Reserve Officer in 2006. Two years later, he assumed command of the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment of the 424th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve, in Newtown Square. Gabler held that position until he transferred to his current position in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. During his military service, Gabler has earned promotion to 1st lieutenant and captain.
“This will be my first deployment, but I have had other periods of military service, including an exercise with the PA Army National Guard and several NATO partners in France in 2013,” Gabler said.
Gabler is in the middle of serving his fifth term in office, having first been elected in 2008 to serve the 75th Legislative District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
When asked if he plans to run for his seat again in 2018, Gabler said, “I can tell you that I look forward to being a state representative when I get back.”