Our U.S. military is preparing for change, and some of the biggest changes will likely occur among Guard and Reserve units across the country. Over the past 11-plus years, "hometown heroes" have answered the call of the nation and left their civilian employers and Families behind to perform their duties.
For the American public, this previously might have gone unnoticed, but in a climate of fiscal austerity, it has caught the attention of many. The reserve components across the Department of Defense comprise approximately 43 percent of the Total Force, but are maintained at only 9 percent of the total annual DOD budget. These "Seven Seals" complement the U.S. military strategy by adding cost effective flexibility that represent a good value to the U.S. taxpayer.
Additionally, the men and women who serve in the reserve components are America's connection to hometowns across the Nation.
The responsibility of advising the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs on behalf of these 1.1 million reserve component enlisted service members and their Families falls on the shoulders of Sergeant Major Michael Schultz. In his role as the tenth Senior Enlisted Advisor, Schultz also keeps the DoD's enlisted corps informed about issues that affect all services, including the challenges of budget cuts and the necessity of maintaining operational capabilities with limited resources. While performing this mission, he does so with the knowledge that his boss, Mr. Richard O. Wightman, Jr., is responsible for policy, oversight, and supervision of the seven reserve components.
Schultz's responsibility for advising the Assistant Secretary and staff on enlisted affairs is not a far cry from his previous role as Command Sergeant Major of the Army Reserve. From 2009 until late last year, he represented the interests of more than 150,000 enlisted Army Reserve Soldiers at all levels within the Army, and he routinely provided information about these Citizen-Soldiers to Army and DoD leadership while testifying before Congress.
"Sgt. Maj. Schultz worked tirelessly to ensure Army Reserve Soldiers had the resources they needed to support the Army and the Nation during his tenure on my Board of Directors," said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler. "I know he will bring that same level of Army professionalism to his new role at the Department of Defense."
A strong advocate for the enlisted corps, Schultz believes in leading by example, and feels the "getting back to basics" message applies to all components.
"Noncommissioned officers need to show their respective services what right looks like," said Schultz. "Leaders, no matter the organization, must know programs, policies and resources available, and if they are not sure, they need not be afraid to ask."
Lt. Gen. Jeffrey W. Talley, the Chief of Army Reserve and commanding general of United States Army Reserve Command presided over Schultz's Pentagon change of responsibility ceremony and is one of his strongest supporters. He noted that his focus on fostering an environment of engaged leadership and concern for the force is shared with Schultz. "Before I assumed this position, he was already a formative force in both defining and pursuing that initiative, and spearheading efforts to spread that message through all levels of this command. Our nation has asked a lot from its Reserve Components, and he ensured our Soldiers and their Families had what they needed to remain resilient."
Schultz's background as a Citizen-Soldier provides some perspective of the challenges reserve component service members face. He recently retired after 15-years from the Tampa Police Department in April 2012. Additionally, he encourages service members and their Families to look outside the military to better themselves and the military. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in education from Argosy University in Tampa, Florida, and holds a master's degree in public administration and a bachelor's degree in Political Science.
As the Joint Force adapts to the evolving needs of the nation, Schultz believes the role of the reserve component has never been more important.
"Reserve component service members have made great sacrifices over the past decade," he said. "We've evolved into a premier battle-tested force, providing depth, flexibility and adaptability to the active component. We have also definitively put an end to any misperception about what it means to be in the reserves."
"The future requires both maintaining our current combat skills and capabilities, and instilling the order and discipline that makes us the most professional enlisted corps in history."