Story by Lisa Ferdinando (ARNEWS)
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 18, 2013) -- More than 100 Army Reserve Soldiers, including three who are also members of Congress, took part in a morning run, April 18, 2013, to commemorate the Army Reserve's 105th birthday.
With the U.S. Capitol as the backdrop, the Soldiers gathered at the National Mall and then headed out as a group shortly after sunrise on a two-mile run though the nation's capital.
Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley, the chief of the Army Reserve and commanding general of U.S. Army Reserve Command, thanked Soldiers who came out to participate in the event. He also applauded both Reserve and active duty Soldiers for their service to the nation.
"Our [active] Army, of course, they work full-time, day in and day out as Soldiers," Talley said. "In the Army Reserve, most of us, to include our general officers, are traditional Reservists with civilian careers. [They are] leaders in their communities, and they use those skill sets to make them better Soldiers."
Talley also gave a special welcome to the three U.S. Representatives who serve in the Army Reserve: Joe Heck, Tim Griffin and Brad Wenstrup.
"We have a lot of challenges in the nation, but I think it's fair to say with leaders like this in Congress, and with leaders like you in our armed forces, the future is still bright, despite some of the negativity that we hear day in and day out," Talley said.
The Army Reserve held the event ahead of its April 23 birthday to allow the participation of leaders, including Talley, who will be visiting troops overseas on the actual birthday.
The lawmakers who came out for the run said being a part of the military has given them a unique perspective and better understanding of the issues that service members face.
Heck, a colonel in the Medical Corps, said the birthday has great meaning to him, since the Army Reserve was born out of the Medical Reserve Corps.
"My time in the Reserve is now going on 23 years," said Heck, a physician who was called to active duty three times, including a deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"It's the most incredible aspect of my personal career that I've ever had," he said. "The opportunity to give back, the opportunity as a doctor to take care of those who put on the uniform and sacrifice themselves in harm's way just means that much more."
Griffin, who is in the Judge Advocate General's Corps, or JAG, with the rank of lieutenant colonel, has served on active duty as an Army prosecutor at Fort Campbell, Ky., and as an Army JAG in Iraq.
"It was a great honor to be out here and run today with my fellow Army Reserve Soldiers," he said. "I've been in the Reserve for about 17 years and always had an interest in the military, but wanted to be able to have a civilian career in addition.
"The Army Reserve was just a perfect deal for me because I was able to pursue my civilian career and at the same time serve on the Army side," said Griffin, an attorney and business owner.
Wenstrup, a podiatric surgeon and lieutenant colonel, joined the Army Reserve in 1998 at age 39.
"The Army, to me, has the greatest group of people. They're great to be around. It's the best group that I've ever joined," he said.
"I just feel blessed to be where I am, when I wake up each and every day, no matter which uniform I'm putting on," said Wenstrup, who served in Iraq for a year as chief of surgery with the 344th Combat Support Hospital.
Command Sgt. Maj. James Lambert, the command sergeant major of the Army Reserve, welcomed the participation from various units and the members of Congress.
"Serving in the Army Reserve is a great thing," he said. "I've been serving since I was 17-years old, so just over 29 years now, loving every minute in a variety of capacities."
Today's Army Reserve is a key complementary operational force that supports the entire United States military in training and in combat, in 148 military occupational specialty fields.
The Army Reserve consists of more than 200,000 "Citizen-Soldiers," with approximately 11,900 deployed around the world, providing life-saving and life-sustaining forces for Joint Force operations.