January 30, 2012
By Megan Doyle, Army National Guard
ARLINGTON, Va. – The newly created Individual Ready Reserve Affiliation Program allows IRR Soldiers and their families to maintain a connection to the military community through an affiliation with the local reserve-component unit that is closest to their home.
The new program provides National Guard Soldiers and their families an opportunity to participate in unit activities and access information and services, including medical readiness resources, employment programs, career counseling, state government and Veterans Affairs information and family readiness services.
Through Individual Ready Reserve Affiliation Program, or IAP, IRR Soldiers will establish and maintain communications with their affiliated unit, which will be within 50 miles or 90 minutes of travel from the Soldier’s home of record.
After the U.S. Army Reserves initiated IAP, Army National Guard Director Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr. recognized the value of the program and committed the ARNG as a partner. To the IAP, the ARNG brings connections to hundreds of units through armories and family programs in communities, nationwide.
“The (Army National Guard) director recognized these Soldiers are an important part of the Army family,” said John Schmidt, Army National Guard program lead.
“From when the Soldier joins the Army on the first day, to their eight year re-up, we are going to keep them in touch with the Army family,” said Schmidt. “The IAP is a total support network and the (Army National Guard) wanted to be a part of it to ensure Soldiers and their families are connected to the Army family.”
IAP was initially tested with a pilot program in several states to determine potential benefits, the impact on each unit’s full-time staff and necessary changes to regulations, policies and systems. The five-month pilot connected over 4,000 Individual Ready Reservists with local Army National Guard units.
During the pilot, administrators found that the program required minimal additional work for states, units, and local commands because the aim of the IAP is to provide IRR Soldiers access to the pre-existing networks and resources.
“Most Guard units have a support network already built. The program is simply about maintaining a connection,” said Gregory Heffner, a program lead from the Army National Guard Personnel Policy Division. “It is more of a referral program — if a Soldier has an issue, hopefully they will pick up the phone.”
All states and territories are strongly encouraged to participate in the program, which supports the Army’s Continuum of Service model.
Affiliated IRR Soldiers continue to be assigned to HRC and are not assigned to the Army National Guard or USAR. IRR Soldiers may still receive orders to muster from HRC, but are not required to participate in any activities with their affiliated unit including training, nor are they obligated to maintain contact with the unit.
If a Soldier chooses not to participate in any events, they will be required to acknowledge their awareness of IAP, their affiliation to an RC unit and their understanding that resources and support will always be available to them while assigned to the IRR.
“The intent is to have every armory participating, and the expansion of the program will ensure that each Soldier has access to a local community,” Heffner said. “We want them to be able to walk into their local armory and ask questions.”
For more information on IRR, visit U.S. Army Human Resources Command website IRR page at https://www.hrc.army.mil/site/Reserve/soldierservices/programs/irr.htm.