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LTG Helmly‘s message to all US Army Reservists

W. Hall

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Message from the Chief, Army Reserve

LTG James R. Helmly
Chief, Army Reserve
Commanding General, US Army Reserve Command

2 December 2003

In recent months I have received a great amount of correspondence asking questions about service and duty in the Army Reserve and the uncertainty of the current war. While mindful of the adage that the only â Å“dumbâ ? question is the one not asked, I am sometimes frustrated trying to answer emotionally charged questions asking about â Å“fairnessâ ? of who is mobilized; â Å“fairness of why someone is mobilized; â Å“fairnessâ ? of length of mobilization and so forth. Soldiers and their loved ones have asked these questions throughout history. Because of the sincerity of such questions and my equal sincerity in wishing to address them in a way that will satisfy the questioners without my appearing indifferent, I've been searching for a better â Å“answerâ ?.

The following is a quote from a previous Commander-in-Chief from a time of crisis at the beginning of another era â “ the Cold War.

I believe President Kennedy's answer is relevant to our situation today. His acknowledgement of life's inequities is refreshing. His acknowledgement of the important role reserve component soldiers offer to strengthening national security is inspiring and as relevant to today as it was when he spoke at a news conference on the 21st of March, 1962.

QUESTION: â Å“Mr. President, at some of our military camps, there have been demonstrations by mobilized Reservists, including in one case an attempted hunger strike. I wonder if you couldn‘t comment on these demonstrations, and couldn‘t you give the Reservists some notion of when they might be released?â ?

THE PRESIDENT: â Å“Well, I understand the feeling of any Reservist, particularly those who may have fulfilled their duty and then they are called back. They see others going along in normal life, and therefore they feel: how long are we going to be kept?

â Å“We will release them at the first possible date consistent with our national security. They were called up because of the crisis in Berlin, and because of the threats in Southeast Asia. And I do not think that anyone can possibly read the papers and come to the conclusion that these threats do not continue. There is no evidence that we are going to quickly reach a settlement in either one of these areas.

â Å“These Reservists are doing a very important job. In my judgment, the fact that they were called up, the fact they responded, has strengthened the foreign policy of the United States measurably since last July and August.

â Å“Now secondly, there is always inequity in life. Some men are killed in a war, and some men are wounded, and some men never leave the country, and some men are stationed is the Antarctic, and some are stationed in San Francisco. It's very hard in military or in personal life to assure complete equality. Life is unfair. Some people are sick and others are well.

â Å“What I do hope is that these people recognize that they are fulfilling a valuable function, and that they will feel, however humdrum it is, and however much their life is disturbed and the years have been yanked out of it, they will have the satisfaction afterwards of feeling that they contributed importantly to the security of their families and their country and at a significant time.â ?
President's News Conference
Washington, D.C. March 21, 1962

Let The Word Go Forth,

The Speeches, Statements and
Writings of John F. Kennedy, 1947-1963