Like many of my posts, this one started as a thought on LinkedIn and turned into a good enough discussion that I wanted to share it here, too.
I want to round out this week with a couple thoughts on what it means to serve and what it means to volunteer.
I’ve had a lot of great discussions over the last couple weeks with folks throughout the Army, at several military installations and several commands, and a lot of them have asked how we make the tie between one of our major lines of effort in our Army HRC 2030 plan – caring for Soldiers, families, and civilians – and the Army mission. Don’t we just, you know…serve?
This year, on 1 July, we celebrated 50 years of the All Volunteer Force, the end of conscription in the United States. We are a force of volunteers. We raise our hand to volunteer to serve when we join the Army.
But that isn’t the only time we volunteer to serve. We raise our hand and volunteer to serve every time we reach a new rank, and in some cases when we’re entrusted with responsibility in a new job. And when we count PCS’s and the hassles of relocation, the stresses of deployment both on you and on the family, the potential sacrifice of careers if we can’t make co-location or remote options happen, and more…our families volunteer, too.
You don’t just volunteer at the start of your career. You and your family volunteer every time you put on the uniform. And for many of you, after you’ve taken off the uniform, when you mentor a Soldier, offer services for Soldiers and families, advocate for veterans’ rights.
And when folks in all these categories stop volunteering, when they’re not inspired to continue, we get into the recruiting and retention situations we see now.
We want people to keep volunteering to serve, not just when they first enter service but when they get seasoned, trained, and ready to lead and train others. We want knowledgeable experts and professionals to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, in uniform and out, to mentor and lead, to be all they can be, and to encourage others to be all they can be. It’s how we build the biggest, most motivated, most willing talent bench we can build to accomplish those missions.
If we want people to keep volunteering, we have to have their backs. We have to make good on the Army’s promises to them and to their families, and we at United States Army Human Resources Command believe we are a major touchpoint to manifest the Army’s willingness and commitment to take care of Soldiers, families, and civilians. We have to build this trust between the institution, our volunteers, and our families.
So yes, it’s about caring – and about building teams, building trust, and building commitment, not just of the volunteers to the institution, but the institution to its volunteers.