By Terrance Bell
U.S. Army Garrison Fort Lee Public Affairs
When young private Stephen Iacovelli cleaned toilets, pulled guard duty and marched amongst battle buddies as an advanced individual training Soldier here in 1985, he likely never fathomed wearing the star of a general officer one day.
Similarly, he couldn’t have imagined holding down a fulltime civilian position in another state, carrying two separate “commanding general” titles as an Army Reservist, and performing those military duties where his career began.
Putting it in Iacovelli’s words, he is living a dream.
“I still can’t believe it,” he said. “There are 80 brigadier generals in the Army Reserve, and I’m one of them. How could I have imagined that as an E-1 36 years ago?”
Iacovelli is the deputy commanding general for the Army Reserve, Combined Arms Support Command. He also leads the 94th Training Division (Force Sustainment) that’s headquartered here. He splits his time between offices located less than a mile apart. In the civilian sector, he serves as an information technology executive in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina.
The Citizen-Soldier’s hectic military schedule is such that his staff members insist “it is the most fulltime part-time job they’ve ever seen,” said the New York native with a laugh.
As members of CASCOM’s leadership team, Iacovelli and his National Guard counterpart, Brig. Gen. Ralph Hedenberg, hold the only two DCG titles at the Sustainment Center of Excellence and play important roles in reserve component affairs and relations.
“We are here to advise the CASCOM commander on Reserve- and Guard-specific issues – to be kind of a conduit between the Sustainment Center and, in my case, the U.S. Army Reserve Command,” said the 54-year-old.
Though he fills two distinct reserve positions, Iacovelli’s titles are strongly linked, he emphasized.
“What’s nice from my point of view – being dual-hatted – is that CASCOM is responsible for Quartermaster, Transportation, Ordnance and Personnel Services,” said Iocavelli, who assumed both of his titles in August 2018. “Four of my (five) brigades (under the 94th) are aligned with those career management fields.
“On the CASCOM side, we’re the proponent. We come out with the doctrine and programs of instruction. On the 94th side, we actually teach classes under CASCOM’s programs of instruction and execute what is being put out from a proponency point of view. So, having one foot on either side is great because I get to see things from the proponent side and execution side.”
Iacovelli estimates his time is divided 40/60 between his military duties, which require substantially more time than the typical one-weekend-per-month and two weeks of continuous training yearly, and his civilian job, which is altogether another dimension in his career juggling act.
“The only way I can make it happen, obviously, is with the support of my family because I’m traveling a lot,” he said of his wife Carol and daughter Sarah. “Even if it’s here, which is only two hours from my home, or somewhere far across the country, they’ve put up with it.”
So has Iacovelli’s civilian employer, which has honored his military service by tailoring duties to accommodate his soldierly obligations.
“My civilian job has really bent over backward for me,” he said. “Because of my responsibilities in the military and frequent travel, it’s hard to be on a project that’s forward-facing with a client (and) time-constrained. If there is a deliverable that’s due, and I find out I have to attend a briefing or travel for something and can’t be there for it, it makes it difficult.
“So, the things they’ve been having me do are either internal projects or work for clients that is not forward-facing – behind-the-scenes type things or work that’s not time-sensitive but still contribute to a project.”
Reserve Soldiers can fully concentrate on their duties and responsibilities when they have the backing of employers, Iacovelli acknowledged. This is an important factor in accomplishing the overarching mission.
“I know my employer’s support of what I do as a reservist is not an isolated case,” he said. “There are businesses and organizations across the spectrum doing everything they can to assist America’s Citizen-Soldiers. I’m immensely appreciative, thankful and proud of their roles in the defense of this nation.”
Meeting simultaneous military and civilian job demands requires ambition and aspiration. For Iacovelli, it is rooted in a largely ideal childhood sprinkled with family get-togethers, team sports played all over the neighborhood and family members who served their country.
“I had two uncles who were in the military during World War II,” he recalled of his middleclass upbringing in Commack, Long Island. “One served in the Army under (Gen. George S.) Patton and the other was in the Marines and did the whole island-hopping campaign (in the Pacific). I spent a lot of time with them as a kid, and I watched a lot of war movies on TV.”