KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — The U.S. Army Reserve is composed of approximately 200,000 citizen-soldiers who mostly combine part-time military duty with a separate, full-time civilian career. Reserve soldiers can, however, assume active duty status for such events as annual training or deployment to overseas contingency operations. Since its beginning in 1908, American citizen-soldiers have paused from their usual jobs, temporarily left their families and answered the nation's call to duty. Over the years, the reserve force has adapted to meet the needs of the United States and the American people. Today, the Army Reserve makes up only 20 percent of the Army's organized units, but provides half of the Army's combat support and a quarter of the Army's total resources -- human capital, facilities, and materiel combined -- all that at just 5.3 percent of the Army's budget according to the U.S. Army Reserve.
Over more than 30 years, U.S. Army Reserve Chief Warrant Officer 4 Keith Wright has built a life and career dedicated to public service. He shares his perspective here.
Name, Rank and Unit:
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Keith Wright, USACE Transatlantic Afghanistan District
deputy commander of a power production task force
Why did you join the Army Reserve?
I needed an adrenalin fix. I wanted to do things most people couldn't or wouldn't do and get paid for it. Things like drive machines of steel, jump out of airplanes, shoot weapons and wake up in places most people only read about in the news.
What are some of the challenges and benefits of serving in the Army Reserve?
Balancing your everyday career with your Army Reserve career and still finding time to spend with your loved ones.
What is your job at the Transatlantic Afghanistan district?
As the deputy commander for Task Force Breshna Barq, I supervise five enlisted personnel and along with our civilian counterparts execute projects that are delivering electricity to residents of Kandahar.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy mentoring and motivating junior warrant officers and encouraging high performance enlisted soldiers to consider becoming warrant officers themselves.
Did you use any of your Army Reserve benefits?
I transferred education benefits to my children and am proud to share I have a daughter who recently graduated from law school at Florida A&M University.
What inspired you to become a warrant officer?
The career path of a warrant officer appealed to me both professionally and personally. In it, I am allowed to concentrate my skills on a highly-technical and focused topic and provide my command with timely, expert information to execute the mission.
Describe an unforgettable day in your career.
The pride I felt when I became a warrant officer is indescribable but it remains the most unforgettable day in my Army Reserve career.
What's your message to people who plan to join the Army?
Whatever potential you bring to the Army know that it will be refined and magnified so go for it. Read, read, read, learn, learn, learn and strive to be the best. Always work toward excellence and if you fall short of your goal, regroup and push harder. Never quit.
Who helped and supported you to become the person who you are now?
I am my toughest critic and my loudest cheerleader.
What types of causes are you involved in, if any?
Minimalism, meaning simple living, consuming less, polluting less, smart natural resources management and entrepreneurship.
What’s your favorite saying?
“If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it again?” John Wooden.
What town do you consider home?
My hometown is Hollywood, Florida, but I feel at home in quiet, rural settings.
Would you recommend folks seek certification/ licensure in their respective professional fields?
Degrees, certifications or licenses are keys to opening doors in many industries, but don't become complacent. Seek developmental opportunities and acquire as much practical knowledge as possible because experience matters.
Do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy scuba diving, farming and motorcycling. I also enjoy sociology.
When you finish your deployment, what will be your greatest memory?
That the work I did may have helped improve the economy and quality of life for Afghans.