The chief of the Army Reserve finds "getting out and talking to the soldiers" the most personally rewarding part of his job. Lt. Gen Jack Stultz said, "I find out what’s real. Watching them in action is much more valuable and rewarding than sitting through a power point presentation."
Adding, "A Pfc., lieutenant or captain explaining something, well, they know what’s going on. He’s got it. He’s going to be deployed to Afghanistan."
Stultz, who was asked to stay on as chief of the Army Reserve by Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army chief of staff, said the flip side is "the lack of equipping."
AUSA NEWS spent most of a day traveling with Stultz as he met with soldiers, ate with soldiers and sat through power point presentations as part of the Global Medic 2010 exercise held at Fort Gordon, Ga. "They’re simulating having some piece of equipment. Their radios can’t reach back [to send additional supplies to a forward surgical team]. When they get to Afghanistan, they’re going to have to know how to operate it. They ask, ‘Why don’t I have it now?’"
Adding, "We don’t do a good job of telling our story. A lot of people don’t understand the quality people we have."
Stultz paused and said, "Today we met a lieutenant working on his Ph.D, an E-4 owning his own business. That’s what I mean, and they want to be in the Army Reserve."
Wherever Stultz went that day, soldiers would come up to him – one, two at a time or in small groups. They ask if he would pose for a picture with them. Phones with cameras, small digital cameras and single lens reflex digital cameras then seemed to appear out of nowhere.
With Capt. Hannah Kent and Capt. Margaret O’Donnell of the British Army, he talked about the differences between the United Kingdom’s territorial force and the Army Reserve. With Staff Sgt. Andrea Humble, he asks about how she is treating a blister on a soldier’s foot during sick call.
Capt. Ben Akhuenti-Oni told Stultz about his life in Nigeria and how he was a graduate student in political science at the University of Minnesota on 9/11. They both laugh over his first experience with snow.
When Akhuenti-Oni talked about adding mental health aspects to the Golden Medic exercise, Stultz listened intently and an aide takes down contact information.
"Pfcs, lieutenants, captains explain things as they really are. They know what’s going on. They really get it," Stultz said later.
He warned against having the reserve components return to their role as a strategic reserve. "The soldiers we have today, they signed up for this. They’re signing up saying: ‘I want to do this.’"
All components are having difficulty recruiting and retaining medical professionals, as a group. "To attract the younger, you’ve got to reward them more – repayment of loans. We’re competing against the outside world."
To retain doctors, psychologists, nurse practitioners after their eight-year obligation is a challenge. "They need control. They are starting to establish a practice."
Stultz is speaking from personal experience. When he was told while on active duty as a captain that his next assignment was an unaccompanied tour to Korea, he resigned. "I was told I had no choice but to go to Korea. They face the same decision. We need a new category of ready reserve – subject to voluntary call-up."
Stultz said, "Soldiers need to be able to take a knee," a lesson he learned early on from soldiers working on the build-up in Kuwait in late 2002 and 2003. He was sending them back home when they weren’t needed and bringing them back when the tempo picked up.
"I thought I was doing them a favor, sending them back to their families. They told me, ‘we haven’t been able to relax’ because they knew they were coming back."
With a new class of ready reserve, "the Army can accommodate soldiers who say: ‘I just can’t obligate myself to a 12-month deployment and that applies not just in professional fields.’ This doesn’t require legislation. It’s policy."
Adding, "If we don’t change the policy we’ll lose a lot of people" in the active force and the reserve components.
The key to attracting medical technicians is partnerships, Stultz said. "The employers appreciate that" because their military training complements their civilian job.