Magazine article Warrior - Citizen

Irr Soldiers Muster in Puerto Rico

Magazine article Warrior - Citizen

Irr Soldiers Muster in Puerto Rico

Article excerpt

FORT BUCHANAN, Puerto Rico - In 2007, Spc. Juan J. Pérez completed a 16-month mobilization, including a one-year tour in Iraq, with the Puerto Rico National Guard. He figured he should say goodbye to his wife and three kids again when the Army Human Resources Command invited him to attend an Individual Ready Reserve muster.

Bue after signing in, Pérez quickly realized he was not being mobilized for another combat tour. Instead, he and other IRR Soldiers spent the day updating their records and learning about their benefits and entitlements, including promotion, schooling, health care and civilian job opportunities.

"One of our biggest challenges is ensuring that Soldiers understand this is a muster, not a mobilization," said Lt. Col. Craig Smith, HRC's muster team chief. "We do not mobilize Soldiers at musters. We are here to ensure Soldiers are getting registered tor the benefits they have earned. The Department of Veterans Affairs, the Army and service organizations have more to ofïer than most Soldiers can even begin to realize."

In fact, 17 veteran support agencies attended the Puerto Rico muster to talk about their services and tell Soldiers about opportunities that could benefit them and their Families. Musters have come to resemble career and education fairs with "vendor" booths set up between the muster stations.

"Tile muster program gives us the chance to collect required information from our IRR Soldiers, but it also gives them a chance to learn about the services and benefits available to them," Smith said. "A lot of opportunities can open up for them through either more active IRR participation, membership in a Reserve unit or volunteering to mobilize in support ot overseas contingency operations. We are giving (he IRR Soldiers the cools to make an informed decision and help them determine what works for them."

During 2010, thousands of IRR Soldiers will muster in 19 cities to complete annual readiness checks. The Puerto Rico muster represents the first to be held outside the contiguous states. It's another expansion oí a successful program that began in 2007 with just tour musters.

"The team is venturing outside the continental United States this year for the first time, because we realized it was important to offer our services to those Soldiers as well," Smith said. There are future plans for overseas musters.

A Soldier typically becomes an IRR member after successfully completing several years of active duty or Selected Reserve membership. Soldiers may transfer to the IRR to fulfill the remainder of their contractual military service obligation, normally eight years.

Mustering is an annual requirement and a one-day event tor which IRR Soldiers are paid about $200. …

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