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NEWS | Aug. 15, 2016

Senior leaders forum helps educate educators

By Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton 108th Training Command- Initial Entry Training

Close to 70 Military Science Instructors from 150 Universities spread throughout 26 states came together at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, Aug. 6 for a Senior Leader seminar hosted by the 104th Training Division’s 4th Battalion, 414th Regiment (SROTC).

Those MSI’s were there for an annual training development event designed to tap into Senior Leader mentoring and motivational techniques as well as provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and best practices within the battalion’s extensive Senior ROTC network.

“The goal of this event is very simple,” said Lt. Col. Greg E. Gimenez, 4th Battalion, 414th Regiment (SROTC), battalion commander. “This is a very talented group of Soldiers, but a lot of them come from backgrounds where they’ve come straight from active duty and they really don’t have an understanding of how the Army Reserve works and the options that are available to them.”

“We set up this panel to make them smarter about their own careers in the Army Reserve. In turn they can go back to their universities and educate those future leaders under their charge about their careers. It’s a trickle-down effect,” he said.

The panel consisted of senior commissioned and noncommissioned officers from within the 108th Training Command (IET) as well as Brig. Gen. Joseph E. Whitlock, Deputy Director of Politico-Military Affairs (Western Hemisphere), J-5, Joint Staff in Washington D.C.

“As leaders we have a responsibility to develop those that come behind us in the same way that these folks here from the 104th have a responsibility to develop the cadets in the schools and universities where they serve. That’s why I’m here,” Whitlock said.

“Whether we like it or not we are role models,” he said. “And part of the duties of any senior leader, whether commissioned or noncommissioned officer, is to fulfill that obligation as a role model. This is a great forum for that.”
After brief introductions by each panel member, the floor was opened up to the MSI’s  to ask questions relevant to their careers on a broad range of topics including mentorship, evaluations and career progression within the Army Reserve.

Close to half of those in attendance were coming off of active duty and some serving their first stint in the Army Reserve.

For Soldiers like Sgt. 1st Class Bill Keever, an Assistant Primary Military Instructor at Arizona State University and also a former Olympian, the transition from the active to the Reserve component can be a challenging one.

He says the key is to be proactive in your own career and adds forums like this help.

“During my transition, I didn’t fully understand the system. I didn’t fully understand what I needed to be doing. On active duty things are pretty much streamlined for you.

“Through the conversations here today, I understand that I need to do a better job of managing my own career. Things like this help clear those things up,” he said.

The preparation for an event like the one held at Lewis McChord can be enormous. Gimenez started planning months in advance. But he says the payoff of retaining talented Warrior Citizens with skill sets unique to the Army Reserve is well worth the effort.

“We have some really talented folks in this unit. These are game changers in their industries. We have folks with PhD’s; we have engineers, and we even have a former Olympian,” he said.

“These are folks that bring real value to the Army Reserve and we don’t want to lose these people. If things like this help us to keep them in our Service, then I gladly put forth that effort.”