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NEWS | July 14, 2022

New Wisconsin Army Reserve Ambassador named

By Cheryl Phillips 88th Readiness Division

The chief of the Army Reserve has appointed a new Wisconsin Army Reserve Ambassador.

Lt. Gen. Jody Daniels named Rhonda Smillie in her role to help connect communities to the Army Reserve.

“I am excited to be an Army Reserve Ambassador,” Smillie said. “I joined the Army Reserve when I was 17 years old. So many transformational moments were provided to me by the Army Reserve. I often wonder where I would have ended up had I not met that first Army Reserve recruiter who told me about paying for college via ROTC and the Army Reserve. I am so very grateful for all the opportunities provided to me and now I have a chance to give back.”

Smillie served for 32 years in the Army Reserve, more than 20 or those years were on active duty for the Reserve. She retired as a colonel. “I don't know where the time went. I met and worked with amazing people - both other members of the military and the civilians who support us. I am hoping to educate others about the amazing things one can achieve through service, and specifically service in the Army Reserve,” she said.

While in the Army, she served in key leadership positions, including legislative liaison, deputy director of military personnel and executive assistant to the director of Human Resources Command.

The Wisconsin native has a Master of Science in military and strategic leadership, a Master of Arts in gerontology and a Bachelor of Science in communication. Smillie is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army Force Management Course.

Her awards include the Legion of Merit (2nd award), the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Meritorious Service Medal (3rd award).

Smillie is a member of the Disabled American Veterans, Reserve Officer Association and American Legion.

She lives in Madison with her husband Douglas Way and son Truman Way.

“I plan to leverage my background and connection to the state of Wisconsin to promote the Army Reserve to external and internal audiences so the Army Reserve's significant and relevant contributions are clearly understood and supported,” Smillie said.

Army Reserve Ambassadors are an important bridge to the communities across the nation. They are a group of influential volunteers who function at the state and community levels. Ambassadors are special government employees who represent the chief of the Army Reserve without salary, wages or related benefits. Ambassadors provide continuity over the long term; while local Army Reserve team leaders come and go, Ambassadors are vested in the community.

The function of Army Reserve Ambassadors is similar to that of Civilian Aides to the Secretary of the Army, and carry a protocol status equivalent of a major general. This is a key means by which Ambassadors are able to effectively execute their responsibilities.

Ambassadors build relationships and strive to improve the understanding and knowledge of the Army Reserve within the business and social sectors of communities across America. They help to educate the public, community leaders, and congressional staff offices about the capabilities and values of the Army Reserve and the Soldiers who live and work in their communities.

They establish open lines of communication with the local communities to identify and gain insight into their needs and the Army Reserve’s ability to meet them; they support recruiting efforts by assisting community and business leaders in recognizing that the Army Reserve strengthens the Soldiers, the community, and the Nation.

Ambassadors also reach out to Soldiers and their families during the difficult times of deployments and the excitement of "welcome home" ceremonies while facilitating community support.

For information about the Army Reserve Ambassador program, go to: