Program helps Ready Reserve Soldiers,
Families connect with military community
|By Megan Doyle, Army National Guard
ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service) — The Army Reserve, the Army Human
Resources Command and the Army National Guard have joined to provide
Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) Soldiers and their Families a way to
connect with the military community.
By affiliating Individual Ready Reserve Soldiers and their Families with
a local reserve-component unit, the IRR Affiliation Program creates a
support network intended to improve readiness and encourage Soldiers
with valuable skills to continue their service, officials said.
After the Army Reserve initiated the program, Army Lt. Gen. William E.
Ingram Jr., director of the Army National Guard, recognized its value
and committed the Army Guard as a partner, bringing connections to
hundreds of units through armories and Family programs in communities
“(The IRR Affiliation Program) is a total support network, and the (Army
National Guard) wanted to be a part of it to ensure that Soldiers and
their Families are connected to the Army Family,” said John Schmidt, a
program lead from the Army Guard’s personnel policy division.
A pilot program in several states determined the IRR Affiliation
Program’s potential benefits, as well as the impact on each unit’s
full-time staff and necessary changes to regulations, policies and
systems. The five-month test connected more than 4,000 Individual Ready
Reserve Soldiers with local Army National Guard units.
The pilot program revealed that the program required minimal additional
work for states, units, and local commands, because it provides access
to networks and resources that already are in place, officials said.
“Most Guard units have a support network already built,” explained
Gregory Heffner, a program lead. “The program is simply about
maintaining a connection — it is more of a referral program. If a
Soldier has an issue, hopefully, they will pick up the phone.”
Army Guard officials announced Jan. 26 that the IRR Affiliation Program
will expand nationwide and encouraged all states and territories to
“The director of the Army National Guard recognized that these Soldiers
are an important part of the Army Family,” Schmidt said. “From when the
Soldier joins the Army on the first day to their eight year re-up, we
are going to keep them in touch with the Army Family.”
Through the program, Soldiers can establish and maintain communications
with their affiliated unit, which will be within 50 miles or 90 minutes
of travel from their home of record. Soldiers and their Families can
participate in unit activities and access information and services such
as medical readiness resources, employment programs, career counseling,
state government and Veterans Affairs information, and Family readiness
Affiliated Soldiers continue to be assigned to Human Resources Command
and are not assigned to the National Guard or the Army Reserve,
officials said. Individual Ready Reserve Soldiers may still receive
orders to muster from Human Resources Command, they added, but are not
required to participate in any activities, including training, with
their affiliated unit.
Also, officials said, Soldiers are not required to maintain contact with
their affiliated unit. Soldiers who choose not to participate in any
events will be required to acknowledge their awareness of the program,
their affiliation with a reserve-component unit and their understanding
that resources and support always will be available to them while
assigned to the Individual Ready Reserve.
“The intent is to have every armory participating, and the expansion of
the program will ensure that each Soldier has access to a local
community,” Heffner said. “We want them to be able to walk into their
local armory and ask questions.”
The IRR Affiliation Program connects Soldiers with the Army Family, and
“is their first stop to gain access to services that are their privilege
and their right,” Schmidt said.