Army Reserve division makes ‘virtual’ a reality

By Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris | 99th Readiness Division | May 1, 2020

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. —

For the U.S. Army Reserve’s 99th Readiness Division, “virtual” has become the new reality.

The 99th RD provides programs and installation support services to enable trained and ready Army Reserve units and individuals to mobilize and deploy – a challenging mission made all-the-more daunting by COVID-19 social-distancing guidelines.

In response to the ongoing pandemic, the 99th RD is spearheading several virtual initiatives to support the 45,000 Army Reserve Soldiers living and serving throughout the division’s 13-state region stretching from Maine to Virginia.

One such initiative is the 99th RD Tuesday Talks program, which offers weekly seminars highlighting information and resources tailored to help Soldiers and families deal with COVID-19.

“The 99th RD Tuesday Talks program is a way for our staff to provide information, resources and a forum for Soldiers, family members and employees to ask questions and get help while navigating the COVID-19 pandemic,” explained Lt. Col. Jason McGrath, Family Programs director and chief, Directorate of Human Resources Operations Division for the 99th RD. “Our guest presenters are helping people throughout the region and across the country by providing tools for financial readiness, well-being and keeping children educated and engaged.”

Tuesday Talks occur every Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. EST and can be accessed online or telephonically. Past talks have focused on topics such as financial resources, saving and investing, well-being and mental health, and online learning. This coming Tuesday’s topic is health and nutrition.

“We believe that learning from each other and sharing experiences can help ease the stress resulting from the way our lives and world have changed over the past few months,” McGrath said.

Every Thursday evening, the 99th RD Training and Resource Chaplain’s Office hosts Thursday Night Theology seminars focusing on the major world religions and how they affect our Soldiers and their families.

“Each week, a chaplain or religious leader will share a little bit about their own faith tradition, and we will have a time for participants to ask questions,” explained Capt. (Chap.) Paul R. Sauer, 99th RD Training and Resource Chaplin’s Office.

Thursday Night Theology seminars occur every Thursday at 7 p.m. EST and endeavor to answer questions such as, “What do my fellow Soldiers believe,” “What are the practices of their faith,” What should I know about caring for them,” and “How does faith impact their service?” These seminars can be accessed online or telephonically.

While these programs focus primarily on Soldiers’ financial, mental and spiritual health, those Soldiers who need to verify their physical health in the form of a Periodic Health Assessment examination can now do so telephonically after completing the first part of the PHA online.

“The telephonic examination is open to any Army Reserve Soldier who has access to a government computer so that they can complete part one in the Medical Operational Data System,” explained Col. Mitchell H. Paulin, 99th RD command surgeon.

While the 99th RD doctors lend their medical expertise to virtual PHAs, Soldiers from the 99th RD’s 78th Army Band have leveraged their musical expertise to create a fully interactive virtual music mentorship program for elementary and high school students affected by massive school closings.

“One of the founding pillars of the Army band is education and educational outreach,” said Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone Tedrick, tuba player for the 78th Army Band. “We wanted actual interaction with students; face-to-face contact.”

Also working to connect virtually with their customers is the division’s Retirement Services Office, which is currently preparing videos and interactive seminars to temporarily replace their monthly Retirement Services Briefings that are normally held throughout the northeastern United States. The first of these products is due out next week.

To participate in the 99th RD Tuesday Talks seminars, visit https://connect.apan.org/familyprograms99thrd/ or access telephonically at: 1-866-817-6392 (passcode 5894977#); 1-888-495-9805 (passcode 2679215#); 1-866-830-5801 (6565542#).

To participate in the 99th RD Thursday Night Theology seminars, visit https://connect.apan.org/familyprograms99thrd/ or access telephonically at: 1-866-817-6392 (passcode 5894997#); 1-888-495-9805 (passcode 2679215#); 1-866-830-5801 (6565542#).

To reach the 99th RD Surgeons Office, call 609-562-7897/7671.

For the latest information about 99th RD virtual initiatives, visit the division’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/99thDIV.

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