Taking Up the Army Challenge


Serving our country in the Armed Forces is a challenge in itself.  The life of a United States Armed Forces service member is unlike most other forms of employment.  Although other businesses have contracts, the contract you sign or oath you take with the Armed Forces says something about your character on the day you sign, and will ultimately say something about who you become as the years go by.  Simply serving in the Armed Forces is no longer enough, we all have a responsibility to be ready to fight when called upon. 

In 1982 when I first enlisted, I knew there would be hard work to do, but I never realized just how much it means to be fully ready when the day comes to move out.  

As an administrator, typing correspondence was a primary duty at my first assignment, but on my second assignment in 1988, I was responsible for ensuring that the 3d Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company’s personnel records (approximately 300) were ready in the case of deployment.  Almost everything was done by an electric typewriter and we had one stand-alone word processor.  After receiving the command’s first passing score on a Mobilization Readiness Deployment Test, I looked forward to the challenge of having my records ready for inspection.  My diligence paid off in 1991, when I had to prepare the units personnel records to deploy for Operation Desert Storm.   

Another challenge came when I was mobilized from October 2004 to September 2005 as the officer-in-charge of the Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Sill, Okla.  Preparing Soldiers for mobilization and deployment was a highlight in my career.  I required the Soldiers and Civilians that worked for me to provide a level of professionalism that would be felt long after the Soldiers passed through our processing center and on to their next assignment.

What can we do to ensure success at the juncture of a call up?  We can prepare our unit, but we must also prepare ourselves to be at the ready.  Scheduling a Periodic Health Assessment (PHA) or dental appointment when needed is the first step in personal readiness. It’s a critical piece that that goes hand-in-hand with training and equipment readiness.  Circle a date on a calendar, or put a reminder in your phone that tells you when nine months has elapsed since your last Periodic Health Assessment or dental appointment.  If necessary, call your unit administrator to assist you when you are due an exam; they would be more than happy to assist (unit administrators live for that stuff). 

Going to Iraq: Chief Warrant Officer 5 Edward J. Salazar Jr, currently the 108th Training Command (IET) command chief warrant officer, on his way oversees during Operation Iraqi Freedom (Surge), July 2007.

I like to say that I can juggle 10 tasks perfectly, but it is that 11th task that gets me every time.  Ask for help when you need it.  Many times we think we can do everything for everybody.  Recognize when you are closing in on that 11th task and ask for help.  Contact your supervisor or unit administrator if you cannot get on a computer to check your last physical exam, last Army Physical Fitness test or last weigh in.

As you progress in your career, look back at what you thought was special and exciting about being a Soldier. Was it the training and travel?  Well, you cannot train or travel if you are not physically qualified.  Take responsibility for yourself and you will soon be looking out for others in your unit.  Once you have built this quality of personnel readiness within yourself, you will be looking to move up, whether as an enlisted Soldier, warrant officer, or commissioned officer.  Readiness is the first step to becoming a leader and will be a career long goal for mission success.  Something that MG McQueen has said in the past continues to hold true now – “If you aren’t ready, you aren’t relevant.”  Readiness is the first step to victory.


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