By Alun Thomas
Phoenix Recruiting Battalion
June 13, 2017
MESA, Ariz. - The Phoenix Recruiting Battalion hosted local Army Reserve leadership at a Reserve Recruiting Partnership Council meeting June 17 at the Sgt. Slivestre S. Herrera Reserve Center here.
The purpose of the R2PC is to improve communications and mutual partnerships between the battalion and Army Reserve units within Arizona in order to fill critical reserve vacancies.
Brig. Gen. Jason Walrath, deputy commanding general - support for U.S. Army Recruiting Command, said conferences like the R2PC are essential for developing positive relationships.
"Relationships matter - and this is what that's all about," Walrath said. "This is definitely the place to start. We (USAREC) talk a lot about strength, but we can do a lot to improve (reserve) readiness."
Walrath asked if both recruiting and reserve commands were both getting what they needed from each other in order to grow the Army to expected levels.
"We've been trying for the last few years to achieve 450,000 end strength on the regular Army side," Walrath said. "Now it's been decided we've cut down a little too far. How that is significant on the active-duty side is it increased our mission for 2017 by 6,000 Soldiers. That's the largest in-year increase in Army history."
This puts an additional strain on resources to make the mission, but Walrath said he's confident it's achievable.
One way to do this is by telling the Army story and informing the public about its mission and the positive benefits it provides, he added.
"In 1990/91 roughly 35 percent of the nation knew someone who was a veteran or knew someone who had served. Currently it sits at about 16 percent," he said. "Both recruiting and reserve are community-based organizations and have their separate networks. If we can combine them and tell the Army story, it's beneficial and strengthens the relationships between us both."
Walrath said he's grateful for the chance to attend events like the R2PC and meet people he normally doesn't get the opportunity to see.
"I get to interact with you and give you a general officer perspective on things I see Army wide, while you give me your perspectives as recruiters and TPUs (Troop Program Units)," Walrath said.
Brig. Gen. Sandra Alvey, deputy commanding general, 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support), has attended 15 R2PCs in the past and said it's important for leaders from the medical community to be present.
"We have a lot of critical shortages in the medical field, whether it's the nurse corps or medical service corps, which includes dentists and veterinarians," Alvey said. "That's why I've attended a lot of these. I like to interact with the Soldiers and find out what they need."
Alvey said she tries to support Soldiers as much as possible at the R2PCs, understanding the challenges they face in the Army Reserve, to which she herself belongs.
"Being a civilian puts a lot of pressure on a Soldier to meet the requirements of the Army Reserve, while also meeting the demands of a civilian employer," Alvey said.
Alvey reiterated the need to tell the Army story and shine a light on serving.
"Hopefully (it) inspires more people to join the Army," she said.