Representing the 104th Training Division (LT) at the recent regional Reserve Recruiting Partnership Council (R2PC) at Joint-base Lewis McChord, I was pleasantly surprised to see a very familiar face to the 104th Training Division (LT) (and my personal mentor) sitting in the front row. Though rarely in my career had I seen him in civilian clothes, there he was, Brigadier General (Retired) Kurt Hardin, the new Washington State Army Reserve Ambassador (ARA). Needless to say, during the first break I was quick to welcome him back to the 104th Division Headquarters building as we caught up on both our military and civilian careers where, over the years, had crossed paths many times. Though nearly two and a half years ago, it seemed like only yesterday I watched from my role as the Commander of Troops (COT) as he passed the 104th Training Division (LT) Command Gideon to its current commander, BG Darrell Guthrie.
At lunch we made our way to the familiar 104th Training Division (LT) Command conference room where I had briefed him many times in the past. However, today we talked about his new ARA role. True to his selfless nature, he told me he recently accepted the ARA volunteer position as a way to give back and continue to care for the Soldiers and Families of the United States Army Reserve. He then went on to explain the ARA program which, as I listened, I could think of no better person to serve in such a role than my former boss.
The ARA Program was established in April 1998 for private citizens to promote awareness of the Army Reserve and the identified goals and objectives of the Chief, Army Reserve (CAR).
ARAs develop awareness and advocacy with community leaders and are vitally important bridges to communities across the nation. They function at the state and local level and voluntarily represent the CAR without salary, wages or other benefits. Most beneficial is that they provide “continuity” over the long term; while local Army Reserve team leaders come and go, Ambassadors are vested in the community.
As the vital bridge to the civilian community, ARAs frequently work closely with civilian employers to promote employment opportunities for USAR Soldiers and their Families.
In addition to his thirty-four year career on active duty and a member of the Army Reserve, BG (Ret) Hardin served the citizens of Washington State as a senior leader within the Emergency Management Division working closely with the Governor’s Office and state and local leaders throughout the state. With this unique combination of USAR and state and local government experience, Ambassador Kurt Hardin will undoubtedly find great success in promoting and advancing the USAR mission and objectives, to include those of the 104th Training Division (LT), across the Northwest region. We are fortunate to have him back on our USAR team.