Army Reserve Ambassador (ARA) Conference Information

AR Ambassador Conference focuses on tactical training, future capabilities

By Crista Mary Mack, 9th Mission Support Command Public Affairs

FORT KNOX, Kentucky – The 2018 U.S. Army Reserve Ambassador Conference connected 113 Army Reserve Ambassadors from across the United States here March 22 – 24, while simultaneously showcasing current and future capabilities of today’s Army Reserve.

Army Reserve Ambassadors, or ARAs, are volunteer liaisons between the Army Reserve and the state in which they serve. In this role, Ambassadors develop understanding, awareness and advocacy throughout their communities and are a powerful means of message delivery to the American people.

“You are a critical supporting asset to a force of some 200,000 Soldiers spanning 20 time-zones and providing essential enabling capabilities to America’s Army,” said Chief of the Army Reserve, Lt. Gen. Charles Luckey, speaking to the conference on the state of – and plans for – the Army Reserve. “We are on a mission to build and sustain the most capable, combat-ready and lethal federal reserve force in the history of the nation…You are on the trek with us, and your sustained and stalwart support is essential.”

The annual national conference took a new turn this year, adding, in addition to the networking, training and a myriad of topics ranging from scholarships and family programs to operational updates, site visits to a variety of ongoing actual Army Reserve training.

Amb. Ray Lackey, ambassador to the state of Kentucky and former Command Sgt. Maj. of the Army Reserve was impressed with hearing first directly from Luckey, and then being taken in groups to witness the very concepts the CAR was discussing in action.

“(Lt.) Gen. Luckey came in and he talked about making sure Soldiers are trained and equipped and ready for the next war,” said Lackey. “He said, we are here to win the nation’s wars. The mission the Army Reserve had before that was something that was auxiliary, which was what we needed to do at the time. It’s all about standards, and train to standard. For example, he wants to make sure that everyone knows their basic weapons. What was amazing is that we weren’t just hearing it, we actually went out in the field and they took us (the ARAs) to see what he was talking about. We watched the Soldiers with crew-served weapons and in a formation with four HMWVVs and react to attack and actually qualify.”

Support for the Army Reserve through the Army Reserve Ambassador (ARA) Program was established April 1998 to promote awareness of the Army Reserve and the identified goals and objectives of the Chief of Army Reserve. The ARA program provides an avenue to engage stakeholders at the state and local level. 

Often retired Soldiers, Ambassadors are connected to military affairs and continue to volunteer their time in the position, using their capabilities, skills and talents within the ARA program.

“We’re a link to the civilian world for the Army Reserve, and that’s the most important thing about us,” said Amb. David Mitchell, ambassador for the state of West Virginia. “The National Guard has a link through the governor of each state, it’s how they’re resourced and heard. That’s where we come in. We are one of the few assets the Chief of the Army Reserve has to mayors, legislators, governors and congressional staff on Capitol Hill.”

The Army Reserve relies on ARAs to gain support from elected officials and engage stakeholders at the local levels, garner community support for AR events and needs, open doors in business, industry and institutions of higher learning, educate and inform the public/government/business/military and veteran service organizations about the value and positive return on investment of the Army Reserve, and build a cadre of supporters and advocates that can be activated when necessary. 

For more information, visit the featured tab at  If you are interested in continuing to "SERVESTRONG," contact Mrs. Vonda Chisolm, AR Ambassador Program Manager at (703) 806-7615 or email

ARA Conference 2018 Photos

Newly Appointed Army Reserve Ambassadors Left to Right:

Front Row - J. Thodos (IL),  M. Debold, D. Gilbert (TN), A. Leak (IN), MG Irwin, S.Kenyon (MI), T.Irish (NE), L. Purser (TN), W. Wenger (CA)

2nd Row - W. Beard (FL), M. Burnham (FL), R. Fitton (WY), B. Ervin (NC), K. Hardin (WA), R. Trout, A. Maggs (NJ), L. Vasquez (CT), R. Veppert (OH), B. Newberry (WA), B. Richardson (SD).


Newly Appointed  Army Reserve Ambassadors Emeriti

Johnny Dwiggins(NC), James Darden(AL), Wendell McClellan(DC), MG Irwin Center, Paul DeSander (MI), Richard Folkerson (UT), David Mitchell (WV)



Good Resources


Yellow Ribbon Program Brochure

Fort Family Resource Guide


ARA Logo

John Parker Seal Logo

ARA Coin Order Form

ARA Name Badge Order Form
Army Reserve Ambassador Forum Mission Letter
ARA Conference Presentations