Soldiers Require Support from Many Fronts

Article excerpt

I was more than a little disappointed when I read a letter to the editor of Army Times that said SSG Matt Maupin's latest promotion was inappropriate.

I was surprised that a retired Soldier questioned why we promoted Maupin, who was captured three years ago hut hasn't been seen since. We know he was taken as a prisoner hecause we saw him on videotape. That is all we know.

I was concerned that the writer didn't understand our Warrior Ethos, which calls for us to never leave a fallen comrade.

We don't, and we won't.

So, I felt I had to respond to that letter. I wanted all of our military men and women - Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen - to know that, if they're captured, their leaders will continue to search for them and do everything possible to find them. Every military leader will consider them still in our ranks and ensure they receive consideration for promotion, pay and other benefits.

Many people have roles in caring for our men or women in uniform, and each is critical to Soldiers' welfare and the success of the war effort.

Families give Soldiers love and support, while employers provide Soldiers the peace of mind of knowing that, when they come home, they can go back to work and provide for their families. And Soldiers must know that their communities - their friends and neighbors - support what they're doing.

My job, as Chief, Army Reserve, is to give Soldiers the full support of the military in terms of the equipment and training they need to do their jobs.

Meeting all Soldiers' needs is a challenge because our force is geographically dispersed rather than gathered on installations where Army Community Service, Army Emergency Relief, Red Cross and other service organizations reside.

I have actively reached out to such organizations to let them know Army Reserve Soldiers need their support.

GEN E.C. Meyer, president of Army Emergency Relief (AER), is working to expand the support AER gives our Soldiers. AER now will make loans, and sometimes grants, to Soldiers who have orders to be mobilized for more than 30 days. AER helps finance emergency needs for food, rent or utilities; emergency transportation and vehicle repair; funeral expenses; medical and dental expenses; and personal needs when pay is delayed or stolen.

Military service organizations have long recognized the importance of caring for Soldiers, and, because these groups are community based, members can more easily provide assistance to more men and women in the Army Reserve.

I met with The American Legion leadership, who told me they are concerned and that they recognize our challenges. Now they are proactively looking for ways to care for Army Reserve Soldiers.

A few months later, on behalf of the Army Reserve, I signed a memorandum of understanding with the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States that will open local facilities for Army Reserve activities and promote community support for mobilizations and demobilizations.

A lot of people are working hard every day to look after our Soldiers, but young privates and specialists in Army Reserve units look first to their NCOs, because the NCO's job is to provide guidance and direction, to ensure Soldiers grow professionally and develop into the leaders of tomorrow, and to make things happen when a difficult situation arises. Soldiers expect their NCOs to be approachable, technically proficient and honest with them.

My message to these first-line leaders is that looking after Soldiers is your number one priority. Our Warrior Ethos says, "I will always place the mission first," but we cannot accomplish our mission unless NCOs attend to our Soldiers.

Caring for Soldiers doesn't mean coddling our Soldiers. Caring for Soldiers means living the Army values every day, setting high standards, enforcing those standards and sometimes making Soldiers do things they don't want to do. …