NEWS | Feb. 26, 2021

Army Reserve Soldier Gets Back to Basics

By Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris 99th Readiness Division

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may have slowed Sgt. Veronica Ygarza down, but she is not going to let it stop her.

Ygarza joined seven of her fellow Army Reserve Soldiers in the 99th Readiness Division’s FY21 Best Warrior Competition Train-Up Feb. 22-26 at division headquarters here.

“It’s very exciting because, with the whole COVID situation going on, I haven’t been able to do a lot of military stuff, such as assembling and reassembling the 240B or the .50 cal,” said Ygarza, a healthcare specialist who serves on the 99th RD’s Soldier Readiness Improvement Program team. “It’s going to be very fun to get down and dirty and do soldierly tasks again.”

The BWC Train-Up is designed to prepare Soldiers for the upcoming Combined Readiness Division BWC by improving their depth of knowledge and proficiency in military skills in a competitive, tactical environment.

The event promotes and sustains a culture of excellence, leadership, individual readiness and team-building within the command.

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SLIDESHOW | 4 images | Army Reserve Soldier Gets Back to Basics

“The thing I want to get out of this training is getting with a squad again, getting to know the Soldiers, and getting to know the tasks,” said Ygarza, a Lancaster, Pennsylvania native who worked as an EMT in Philadelphia.

The BWC Train-Up is focused on squad-level training by operationalizing Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston’s concept of, “This is My Squad.”

“SMA Grinston’s theme has been, ‘This is My Squad,’ and he wants NCOs to own their squads,” explained Command Sgt. Maj. John Zimmerman, command sergeant major of the 99th RD. “He doesn’t say that from an infantry point of view; he looks at every Soldier in the Army as being part of a team or a squad.

“The genesis of the Top Squad competition was born at the 79th Training Support Command under Maj. Gen. Mark Palzer’s leadership when he was the 79th TSC commanding general.,” Zimmerman continued. “I was his command sergeant major and wanted to get after developing leaders in the Army Reserve and developing better teams.”

All four Army Reserve readiness divisions will meet at Fort Hunter Liggett, California, in March for a Combined Readiness Division “Top Squad” BWC. The top five Soldiers from that event will represent the four RDs at the Army Reserve-level competition to be held in May at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.