One Army Reservist Tells It Like It Is

Yesterday we celebrated the 102nd Anniversary of the Army Reserves.  To honor that anniversary, sixty soldiers in the Army Reserve reenlisted at the fifth annual National Capitol Reenlistment Ceremony on Capitol Hill.  Visit the “My Army Reserve” for pictures and a special message from Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, Chief Army Reserve and Commander Army Reserve Command.

But what exactly is life like for the men and women of the Army Reserves?  We asked one Reservist – Ronald Cameau – to shed some light on his experiences…

USO: Army Reserve – it’s probably a term that people hear a lot, but what does it actually mean as far as where and how you serve?
Ronald Cameau: A reservist is a Service Member who serves in a branch of the military in a part-time capacity (minimum one weekend a month, two full weeks a year) or in a time of war (which is when you become “Active Duty”). With regards to location for the Reservist, we are typically assigned to a unit that is within 50 miles from our home.

USO: Why did you join in the first place?
RC: I wanted to join the Army Reserve without having a full-time obligation to the military, to learn IT skills that would help me be successful.  Being a part of the military is a means to make my resume look good, and lastly, patriotism.

Army Reservists Ronald Cameau flies over Camp Bucca, Iraq in 2005.

USO: What’s the toughest part about integrating back into your non-military life?
RC: I have two perspectives of integrating back into civilian life. My 1st deployment was in 2005 and I was single with no child, so my integration back into my full-time “civilian” life was somewhat normal. I guess my only issue was reintegrating with friends and figuring out what the latest style of clothes were.

My second deployment in 2008 I was married and just had a baby. My integration back was somewhat difficult. When I left, my son was 10 months (not talking or walking… and I missed his first birthday). When I get home he’s talking and walking. I had to reintegrate myself into my family who has already had a setup routine without me around. My son also only called me by my first name. This is sometimes the normal way of life for Active Duty military, but it was hard for us.  My wife wasn’t used to being a “military spouse” because my Reserve status kept me living a “regular” life.  But when the deployment came around, it was hard.  Transitioning was difficult.

My normal Reservist schedule is serving one weekend per month, and two weeks during the summer.  Its a really simple schedule. My family is used to it and we plan around it.

USO: What’s the most rewarding experience you’ve had as an Army Reservist?
RC: Earning the skills and credentials that I can apply to the civilian world. I also really feel like I’m a productive citizen. The ability to serve my nation in response to the terror attacks of 9/11 (which I was directly affected by because I was in the Pentagon near a window on the side where the plane hit) also meant a lot to me.

USO: Any advice on those who are deciding between the Reserves and the “regular” Army?
RC: Active Duty = regular army. We are both Army…
If you if want to stay a civilian but serve your country I would do the Reserves. If you want travel the world and want to make a career out of the military as a full-time occupation, then do Active Duty.  There are pros and cons to both choices, but it really depends on the type of lifestyle you want for you and your family.

Ronald is the proud husband to USO communications specialist Patrice Cameau.  The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Ronald Cameau nd do not necessarily reflect those of the USO.

Zac Brown Band Bonus Pics!

As you know, the Zac Brown Band recently returned from their first USO Tour in the Persian Gulf.  And it was a smashing success!  Not only did they choose to spend time with the Troops instead of attending the Academy of Country Music Awards (although those were fantastic, too), they’ve partnered with Ram Trucks on “Letters for Lyrics” and will soon premiere a video (or two) of their tour.  We’ll have the latest for you when it’s available.

In the meantime, we wanted to share a bonus batch of pictures from their time overseas.  Enjoy!

The Zac Brown Band performs a USO concert before more than 2,500 U.S. troops at Holt Memorial Stadium at Balad Air Base in Iraq, on April 18, 2010. This is the band's second USO tour. (USO Photo by Erick Anderson)

Country music singer Zac Brown and his band graciously receive a challenge coin from Brigadier General Franklin of the United States Air Force just moments before performing a USO concert at the Holt Memorial Stadium at Balad Air Base in Iraq, April 18, 2010. This is the band's second USO tour, having performed for troops at Fort Hood in late 2009. (USO Photo by Erick Anderson)

Country music singer Zac Brown receives a warm welcome from a K-9 unit dog during a USO meet and greet in Kirkuk, Iraq, on April 17, 2010. During the week-long USO tour, Brown and his band visited multiple combat outposts including Camp Buehring, Camp Striker and FOB Tal Abtah. (USO Photo by Erick Anderson)

Country music singer Zac Brown gets up close and personal with troops during a USO show in Mosul, Iraq, on April 16, 2010. This is Brown's third USO tour. (USO Photo by Erick Anderson)

Band frontman Zac Brown signs a guitar for Specialist Vanele Dacosta of New Milford, CT, in Baghdad, Iraq, on April 15, 2010. During the USO meet and greet at Camp Striker, Brown and his band mingled with troops and extended their heartfelt thanks. (USO Photo by Erick Anderson)

The Zac Brown Band performs an acoustic USO show just outside the barracks at Forward Operating Base Tal Abtah, located just outside of Mosul, Iraq, on April 16, 2010. Standing around the band listening to them perform are soldiers belonging to the 1-64 AR, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. (USO Photo by Erick Anderson)