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NEWS | Dec. 10, 2015

63rd RSC hosts nationwide Army Reserve ambassador conference

By Alun Thomas 63rd Regional Support Command

DUBLIN, Calif. - The 63rd Regional Support Command hosted the Army Reserve National Ambassador's Training Forum, Dec. 7 in Camp Parks, Dublin, California, which was attended by senior leaders and ambassadors throughout the U.S. Army Reserve.

The event was held to update ambassadors on current events within the Army Reserve and train them on matters pertinent to their positions as the Army continues to evolve.

Presiding over the forum was Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley, commanding general, U.S. Army Reserve Command, who praised the role of ambassadors, which is to represent the chief of the Army Reserve without salary, wages or benefits, while developing awareness with community leaders and building bridges to communities across the nation.

“Why do we need Army Reserve Ambassadors (ARA)? We recognize we need it like the CASA (Civilian Aides to the Secretary of the Army) program,” said Talley. “We benefit from having this program, where distinguished civilian leaders from across all our states and territories use their experiences and passion to help Soldiers and families in the Army Reserve.”

“While the (ARA) program is far from where we want it to be, it’s a lot better than when it was first initiated and I thank all of you for agreeing to be ambassadors,” Talley said to the group.

Talley’s next question was simply, what makes a great ambassador? 

There’s a perception a great ambassador is someone who’s a retired general officer or command sergeant major, Talley said, to which he disagrees.

“They certainly have significant experience in the military, regardless of their component, but what makes a great ambassador is first and foremost their love for the United States of America, their patriotism, and they want to help Soldiers and their families,” he continued. 

Appointing ambassadors with no military experience has been a priority for Talley, who said he has consciously tried to get away from hiring strictly those who served in the Army Reserve.

“We need to have a diverse group within the (ARA) program. We’ve gained a few women ambassadors, but we need to do better. We need to get more people of color and minority backgrounds too - we need to embrace diversity,” he added. “Diversity is the strength of the nation and the strength of the armed forces. We need to make sure the ambassador program is not just people who look like us, sound like us, talk like us and have the same backgrounds. That’s not going to give the experiences we want to have within the program.”

“There is no perfect blueprint for being an Army Reserve Ambassador,” Talley stated.

Talley asked the ambassadors what their legacy would be at the end of their tenures and challenged them to make sustainable goals.

“Ask yourselves, what is it I want to have done? You have to really target it. Some of you have tremendous connections with local officials. That’s important and we need that. As long as you’re helping Soldiers and their families you’re good, but have a plan.”

Talley said from personal knowledge the most meaningful experiences ambassadors have had is with the interaction with Soldiers and dealing directly with their families.

“Sometimes they could be the most difficult moments too, because of the sticky problems the families sometimes find themselves in,” he continued. “People have to remember you’re all unpaid volunteers who go through a lot of paperwork and processes, but you do it anyway.

“It’s a sacrifice and I thank all of you for everything you do.”