No one knows the importance of having a backup plan better than U.S. Army Reserve Capt. Bob Schmelig. Schmelig joined the U.S. Army Reserve when he was 29 years old—almost eight years beyond the average age of new recruits. After entering the Army Reserve, he reached other milestones including having a family, buying a home, and working in a stable civilian career. Then everything changed when Schmelig was laid off by his civilian employer after 12 years. He said he previously considered serving in the Army Reserve for several reasons. His long list of pros included new experiences, extra pay, and medical benefits. Schmelig joined the Army Reserve as a part-time job. He never expected it to be his career and now considers it one of the best decisions he ever made.
When Schmelig was laid off in 2017, he was serving in a military police unit in Pennsylvania. The organization needed a human resources officer to manage many of its administrative duties. Schmelig was happy to step in and help. “They loved me there,” he said.
That’s when he realized that he could offer the Army Reserve so much more while also helping himself reach his personal goals. Today, Schmelig is working full time with the 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary). He is also planning to deploy and command a unit overseas. Since leaving civilian employment, he found his own potential and discovered how he can contribute his abilities to the Army Reserve.
“The opportunities in the Army Reserve are endless,” Schmelig said. “When I was working for the MP unit, I found what I was good at by volunteering for a ton of additional duties. That led to a very mutually beneficial relationship, which opened doors I never knew existed,” he added. Schmelig capitalized on his own interests and passions in the Army Reserve through several additional duty assignments, such as serving as the unit’s Master Resiliency Trainer. MRT is a resilience-training program that is offered by the United States Army. The program’s goal is to teach Soldiers about resilience and how to train others on the topic. MRT is a joint effort between the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and the United States Army.
“There are so many opportunities and so much to do, it can be overwhelming,” Schmelig said. “The key is looking for ways to get more involved and to not give up.”
Another critical component to success according to Schmelig is talking to your chain of command and asking lots of questions, he said. “When these people are more aware of what you want to do, they are better positioned to help you get there,” he added.
“There is something for everyone in the Army Reserve,” Schmelig said. “I was surprised by my own unexplored potential, which I discovered after I focused on a full-time career in the Army Reserve.”
For more information about the U.S. Army Reserve or to learn how to become an officer, visit GoArmy.com.