By Rosairo Urquieta
63rd Readiness Division
The 63rd Readiness Division conducted their 2019 Army Reserve Ambassador (ARA) workshop on August 16 and 17 in San Diego, California to discuss the future of the U.S. Army Reserve, and the potential impact of working with local Army Recruiting Command Division recruiters, and local community leaders to strategically communicate within the civilian communities the benefits of joining the U.S. Army Reserve. Some of the representatives among the more than 30 participants included Office of the Army Reserve Strategic Communications, Army Recruiting Command Division, 75th Innovation Command, Minuteman Scholarship program representative, Civilian aides of the Secretary of the Army, and of course the ARAs.
During the annual ARA workshop topics of discussion included U.S. Army Reserve community projects, local community events, and how engaging with civilian communities assists in highlighting the U.S. Army Reserve.
“It’s the one time a year when they all come together and learn from each other, share their ideas and connect,” said Frank Childress, deputy director of strategic communications for U.S. Army Reserve.
Childress spoke on the significance of the annual ambassador workshop, it’s benefits, and how the workshop is the best place to share information on best practices.
“The 63rd Readiness Division takes information from all the seven states within it's area of operations, it incorporates all that our ambassadors are doing and shares the information between the ambassadors,” said Childress.
ARAs are volunteers who usually have served in the military in one capacity or another, or civilians who are interested in giving back to the military community through their volunteer service as ambassadors within their own communities.
“ARAs are the links between the Army Reserve and the communities in which Soldiers live and work on a daily basis,” said Brig. Gen. Stacy Babcock, deputy commanding general, 63rd Readiness Division.
Babcock who recently served as the commander for the Army Recruiting Command Division understands the importance and impact that ambassadors have in the communities as liaisons between the U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers and the civilian communities.
“They are out there telling the story from the perspective of a citizen who truly understands and speaks our language. Whether they have prior service or not, they truly understand the U.S. Army Reserve and are great at telling our story,” said Babcock.
In attending these workshops, ARAs receive the latest information on the Army Reserve and its leadership’s focus for the future of the ever-changing environment. These workshops prepare theses volunteer ambassadors with the tools necessary to assist by informing new and current generations about the benefits of serving in the army reserve component.
For many ambassadors serving as volunteers within the ARA program its more than just helping to get recruits into the U.S. Army Reserve, for many it’s about pride, honor and selfless service. It’s about service for a purpose larger than oneself, it’s about serving to make a difference and have an impact in their communities by connecting services to Soldiers who have served, continue to serve and or are interested in serving for love of their country, and it’s also about informing young people about what it really means to serve.
“I really do enjoy getting to meet and work with these young future Soldiers, meeting people, and just getting involved. It gives me an opportunity to give back to our country,” said Henry Ostermann, ARA for Texas who retired from the Army after more than 36 years of service.
Ostermann who has volunteered for more than five years in the ARA program understands the impact the program has within civilian communities and how the annual ARA workshops can assist ARAs by sharpening their skills, remaining relevant, and sharing ideas during these training events. Ostermann who participates in annually held community events like other ARAs is aware of the various key leaders within the communities he volunteers in.
“We need them to tell our story. They are the vital link between the community and us,” said Babcock as she spoke about ARAs.