AUGUST 3, 2018, Fort Jackson, SC – “There are winners all the way around here. Vacant Military Technician (MILTECH) positions are filled, reservist Soldiers are given the chance to get government jobs on the civilian side, and money is brought into local communities by wage earners,” said Maj. Nicholas Dolezal, Commander of the 81st Readiness Division Headquarters and Headquarters Company.
Former Soldiers from throughout the southeast in-processed at the Division headquarters into a MILTECH training program at the 81st that will bring them back into the Army Reserve and increase the readiness of U.S. Army transportation. All indications are that they are not alone in their interest in entering into a promising career field.
“We have seen more interest than what we originally expected,” Dolezal said.
The mission of the 81st Readiness Division, together with its partners, prepares for unified land operations, provides geographic support activities, and ensures its Soldiers are the most capable, combat-ready, and lethal Federal Reserve force in the history of the Nation. The effort is a top priority of Maj. Gen. Kenneth Jones, 81st RD Commanding General.
“…it is an efficient way to address personnel shortages, while providing Soldiers with opportunities for rewarding careers in the Army Reserve,” Jones said.
Command Sgt. Maj. Levi Maynard, Command Sergeant Major 81st Readiness Division, expanded on the degree to which multiple parties benefit from the program while ultimately increasing the readiness level of the Army Reserve.
“The program enhances readiness by increasing the output in the shops and increasing the quantity of equipment that is at operation-ready standard,” he said. “It helps to change the US Army Reserve maintenance culture.”
Both Dolezal and Maynard said that the program fills positions that have been hard to fill in the past. This difficulty in keeping shop numbers up makes it even more challenging to keep Army Reserve equipment ready for the fight.
“The program helps to increase US Army Reserve end strength. It increases Soldiers’ maintenance skills and motivates them to want to stay in the Army Reserve,” said Maynard.
The original goal of the program was to place 50 mechanics. However, there are as many as 130 vacant positions throughout the 81st RD footprint that need to be filled. As long as funding continues, the program will continue to grow. A much higher level of interest has been shown than originally expected and continues to increase as the program garners more attention.
“It’s an opportunity for Soldiers who are not currently employed, or are looking for better employment opportunities, to help take care of themselves financially and potentially lead to a full time job. In addition, it provides an opportunity for Soldiers to hone their mechanic skills, something they do not normally get to do at the units,” said Maynard.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the per capita income in one of the states that fall within 81st footprint was about $21,651 in 2016. Someone in this program who took a position in that same state could make nearly $55,000 per year as a MILTECH. This is the combined income between civilian technician and Army Reserve pay.
“The program is a win-win for both the Soldier and the 81st RD because the Soldier gets a second chance to continue serving while improving his/her financial situation. The service member will also benefit from seeking potential employment with the 81st RD as a MILTECH,” said Maynard. “The 81st RD wins because it gets a mechanic in the shop to conduct maintenance and increase productivity in the shop. By offering the ADOS opportunity to the Soldier, the 81st RD increases its recruiting pool to recruit for the maintenance MILTECH program.”
The early success of the program may have significant implications for both the 81st and the entire USAR. According to Dolezal, the 88th RD, who covers the Midwest portion of the U.S., is starting the process and there is anticipation the program will spread throughout the entire country.
Three candidates were among those who toured Equipment Concentration Site 124 in order to get more information about the program.
“This is a good stepping stone to getting your career started,” said Bernard Jontez, a wheeled vehicle mechanic (91 Bravo) from Atlanta.
While many see the value of a MILTECH position, it is a widespread belief that these positions might be too hard to get. Some may not really know where to start the process. The Mechanics NOW program will walk candidates through every step, even assisting them in the completion of the USAJobs application process.
“From what I have been told, it is not easy getting these positions,” said Natanael Luciano, of Arlington Texas. “This is literally an opportunity to fast track you. This is a very good opportunity.”
Some of the benefits of MILTECH positions are even luring people away from jobs they already hold. Nathanial Phillips of Andalusia, Al. enjoys his well-paying job working on a tug boat. However, working three straight weeks in a row and then having three weeks off can put a strain on family time.
“I have a good job right now. But the idea of more time with the family, working regular hours is certainly appealing,” he said
The stability of the government position was certainly one of the largest attractions for some of the candidates.
“You will always have a guaranteed job,” said Jontez.
CSM Maynard notes the potential for expanding the MOS opportunities for Soldiers in the program as well.
“I would like to recruit some 92 Alphas (automated logistics specialist). We have gotten a lot of interest from 88 Mikes (motor transport operator) as well and have accepted those interested. I would also like to expand the program to 11 Bravos (infantryman),” he said.
Soldiers interested in participating in this initiative should contact Maj. Nick Dolezal at (803) 640-1468 email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Sgt. Maj. Levi Maynard at (202) 491-8053 email: email@example.com
Applicants must meet all eligibility requirements before being approved for Reserve duty, ADOS tours, or MILTECH positions.
By Sgt. H. Marcus McGill