An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | Jan. 9, 2024

Stafford, Michigan Native Promoted to Major in the Illinois National Guard

The Illinois Army National Guard’s Vern Meissner, whose father, Arnold J. Meissner, participated in the “D-Day” invasion of Europe during World War II, was promoted to major Jan. 6 at the Illinois Military Academy on Camp Lincoln in Springfield.
Meissner enlisted into the active-duty Navy in 1989 as an aviation electronics technician. He then transferred to the Navy Reserve in 1993 and completed his service in 1996. In 2010, Meissner enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard as an infantryman and attended Officer Candidate School, commissioning in 2011. He also served as an infantry officer in the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. In the 33rd IBCT, he commanded of C Co. and Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment. He served as an operations officer in the 33rd IBCT before becoming the commander of the Illinois Army National Guard’s headquarters company for Joint Force Headquarters – Illinois. Meissner deployed to Afghanistan in 2020 in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel.
His military education includes Officer Candidate School, Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course, Maneuver Captain’s Career Course, and Ranger School. Meissner has earned several awards including the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, NATO Medal, Ranger Tab, and the Expert Infantryman Badge.
Meissner’s promotion to major marks the transition from being a “company grade” officer to “field grade” officer or senior officer.
“Making major is a huge deal,” said Col. Lenny Williams, Illinois Army National Guard Chief of Staff. “The expectations completely change and you’re in a different category. So, congratulations on making major and becoming a field grade officer. Do not sleep on that responsibility.”
Meissner expressed gratitude and says he plans to continue learn and grow within the Illinois Army National Guard. “Everyone needs to continue to grow,” said Meissner, a native of Stafford, Mich. “This is the next stepping stone, I’m looking forward to it and I’m very excited.”
After spending much of his career at the brigade level and below, Meissner is gaining more experience at the higher levels of the Illinois National Guard. “I’ve been learning a lot since I’ve been here. I’ve spent most of my time at the platoon company battalion and brigade levels so now to be at the joint force level is an eye-opening experience.”
Despite the higher level of responsibility and challenges, Meissner welcomes the pressure.
“That’s how life is. You have to be challenged. Sometimes it’s painful but it’s rewarding at the same time.”