The Uncle Sam “I Want You” poster was an effective recruiting tool for the U.S. Army in its day. The Ohio Military Reserve could use some help like that.
Right now the Reserve does not have any Athens area residents in its ranks, although it would like to.
The Ohio Military Reserve is a volunteer organization that provides help in case of tornados, floods or other disasters.
Reservists serve under the command of the Ohio Adjutant General, Ohio’s top military officer. The Adjutant General also is in charge of the Ohio Army National Guard and the Ohio Air National Guard.
Reservists get training similar to their colleagues in the Guard. In addition to basic soldier skills, reserve soldiers are schooled in things like medical support, shelter management and logistics support.
One officer has called the Ohio Military Reserve “Ohio’s best kept secret” but new efforts are underway to spread the word and increase the ranks.
“We hope to double our troop strength in several years and expand our reach across Ohio,” said LT James P. Trakas, a public affairs officer for the Reserve. “The brigade kicked off 2017 with a renewed effort to enlist new volunteer troops through a public relations campaign as well as open houses, social media, (and) recruitment at public events that may align with our mission.”
Trakas would not divulge how many men and women currently serve.
“Due to operational security protocols, Ohio Military Reserve does not publicly disclose its troop strength,” he said. “The brigade is deployable at its current strength.”
The Reserve’s armory closest to Athens is in Columbus and that’s where Trakas is stationed with Headquarters Company.
“We have not had a recruiting mission in your area in some time,” said Trakas. “That is changing however,” with plans for public relations and social media outreach.
The Ohio Military Reserve is especially interested in attracting individuals who have prior military service and a background in emergency management, law enforcement, and healthcare, such as nurses and medical doctors. They can be as old as 60 and as young as 17.
Unlike their counterparts in the Ohio Army National Guard and the Ohio Air National Guard, Reserve troops are not paid, not unless they’re called into action. And any deployment will be non-combat and within Ohio’s borders.
Reserve members spend one weekend per month at National Guard armories drilling on soldier skills and emergency response. The training prepares them for duties like managing volunteers and organizing mass water distribution in the case of natural and man-made disasters.
When they deploy, they work in support of the National Guard and local authorities.
“The last time the unit as a whole was called out was during riots in the City of Cincinnati during WWI,” said Trakas. However, the Military Reserve these days has “a much greater chance of deploying” because its mission was changed in 2009 to one solely involving emergency management.
In addition to the Military Reserve, which follows Army protocols, the Buckeye State also has a Naval Militia. Ohio is one of a half dozen states with both.