It's the Army Reserve birthday! On April 23, 1908, the United States Congress authorized the Army to establish the Medical Reserve Corps which would later grow into the Army Reserve that we know and love today.
Today is an especially happy day for me as I am not only a Reserve soldier but I am also in the Army Medical Department. It's time for a double party, right? While the active Army celebrates their birthday in June and it often gets the most fanfare, celebrating the Army Reserve is just as important.
I often hear people question what the purpose of the Reserve is. We have a National Guard run by the states that responds to crisis situations within their borders and deploys to supplement the Active force, so why the Reserve too? Why are there three different components when it seems like they all just do the same thing?
Army Reserve Birthday: Why Are We Here?
Simply put, the Reserve is a group of citizens soldiers, created by the United States Congress, who are under federal control during peace and wartime. From their roots as the Military Manpower Reserve to the Strategic Reserve, soldiers have been mobilizing to help the active Army component through all times of war since the United States became a nation. The Reserve is now called an Operational Reserve and is responsible for maintaining the same level of readiness as the active force. This change happened in the 1990s when the National Guard took over the majority of combat roles and the Reserve took the combat support and combat service support. The Armed Forces Reserve Medal was also amended to include the “M” device, which recognizes those who have mobilized. Since 9/11, 218,000 soldiers have been mobilized in support of the Global War On Terror.
What is the Army Reserve?
The Army Reserve is home to mainly combat support and combat service support branches. As it was originally the Medical Corps, this is a tradition that has continued along with other branches such as aviation, military police, logistics and more. This is not to say that the Reserve is made up of a bunch of pencil pushers; aviators still fly into dangerous locations, the MPs still kick down doors and of course, every soldier is required to maintain the deployment standards of the active Army. In addition to these units, there are also two training commands who not only train soldiers in their job specific tasks but also ROTC cadets. Reserve soldiers are not only fighting alongside the active force, they are helping to shape the next generation of officers and enlisted personnel.
Want to Join Us?
Does all this history and celebration of the Army Reserve birthday make you want to join? While I am not a career counselor, I can tell you the benefits that I have experienced being a citizen soldier. Not only do you get to serve your country, you can get a really cool job. Mentioned above is aviation. Want to fly helicopters on the weekend? Bam, let’s do it! Many civilian doctors and nurses use the Army Reserve as a way to give back to their country. The Army Reserve has afforded many opportunities to many soldiers throughout the years. The job is much more flexible than an active component job and yet, you still can have the same satisfaction of giving back by joining the Army Reserve
How to Celebrate the Army Reserve
The great thing about the Reserve is that you do not have to live near an Army base to find a Reserve soldier. Some of their work locations are nowhere near active posts. If you have a local veteran's group in your hometown, I can promise you there are Reserve soldiers there. This April, if you happen to see a soldier wearing a funky looking patch (let’s face it, Reserve patches often pale in comparison to active patches) take some time out and wish them a happy birthday and thank them for their time. It is easy to forget those who do not serve every day but without the help of the National Guard and Reserve forces, the active component would not be able to complete the mission. We are still an Army of One.
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