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NEWS | Oct. 19, 2022

Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel talks work-life integration challenges

By Staff Sgt. Christopher Jackson U.S. Army Reserve Public Affairs Office

The Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting, held Oct. 10-12, provided a wide range of topics including professional development, accessions, force modernization, and people first.

“There is no such thing as work and life; it is a continuum,” Lt. Col. Lisa Jaster said Oct. 12 during a Warriors Corner talk at the AUSA 2022 Annual Meeting and Exposition. “It’s work-life support.” 

Jaster, the first Army Reserve female Soldier to complete Army Ranger school, spoke on the challenges Reserve Soldiers face while integrating family, civilian work, and Army Reserve requirements. 

“The Reserve job is 10 times harder than active duty for me,” Jaster said.  “While on active duty, I could be singularly focused, and paths were set out before me. With the Army Reserve, I have to manage the job that pays the bills with the desire to serve.”

The responsibility of being a mother and wife can shift the balance at times.

“I chose to add a family and a few personal endeavors to that list, complicating the juggling process,” Jaster said. “To add to the internal turmoil, I want to excel in all of them. Every human only has 24 hours in the day. Trying to fit more in doesn’t mean I get more time.”

Jaster noted how there is no blueprint to a successful integration when trying to juggle multiple responsibilities. 

“There is no perfect or right solution. What makes sense for you won't work for others, and they most likely won't understand it,” she said. “Your time allocation is a continuum where focus sometimes falls on family, sometimes it's the Army, and sometimes it's your corporate career. Forgive yourself, and don't look to others for approval.”

Setting goals and utilizing learned leadership techniques from military service within your family and civilian career can help achieve integration.

“The Army Reserve taught me a plethora of lessons on work-life balance, self-forgiveness, goal setting, building diverse teams, flexible leadership styles, and mentorship,” Jaster said. “Those are universal skills and should be applied at every level of a company regardless of industry or size.” Growth and learning from your past can help guide success. 

“Early in my career, I thought work-life balance looked like ‘Lady Justice’ with work on one side of the scale and life on the other. I have since realized that work and life are like sugar and water, once you put both in the same vessel, they can never be truly separated,” Jaster said. “Realizing that life is a mixture of both has helped me manage my time better as I integrate some work into life and some life into work.” 

Jaster discussed how Army Reserve Soldiers bring a wide variety of skills to the table that go beyond a military occupational specialty. 

“Reserve Soldiers don't just bring their MOS skills to the fight. We offer a wide range of experience hard won outside of our military training,” she said. “Smart leaders know how to leverage those unique skillsets, but if we don't help our young Soldiers balance their military careers with their corporate and familial aspirations, we lose all that diverse talent and experience.”

When asked about future opportunities, Jaster has no plans of slowing down. 

“I am excited to announce that the Department of Defense recently approved my manuscript, ’Delete the Adjective, A Soldier's Adventures in Ranger School,’ which will be on the shelves in January 2023,” Jaster said.  “This is the first step in my goal to reach out to others interested in the path less traveled.

“My hope is that the book provides an avenue to understand why people want to live outside their assigned box as well as inspire others to do something completely unique. “