What’s it like in the Reserves?

Some people start their military career in the Reserves. And others might transition from fulltime military service to the Reserves.

Then there’s others, like Defence Health Head of Business Relationships, Chris Grigsby, who do both.

Chris joined the Army Reserve as a 17-year-old at the behest of his adventure-seeking cousin.

“I had such great experiences during my three years in the Reserve that I ended up leaving the Reserves and applying for the fulltime Army,” Chris says. “I went into officer training at OCS Portsea, and eventually went full circle when I returned to the Reserves many years later.”

Chris’ Army career took him to Lieutenant Colonel. And in his current Reserve role he advises Reservists of their protections under the law and employers of their obligations to Reservists in the workplace. He also investigates cases of discrimination against Reservists by employers.

We’ve currently got around 21,000 Reservists in Australia – and they are a vital component of our total Defence Force.

A Reservist undertakes the same initial training as a permanent member of the ADF, but usually completed in blocks to allow for their civilian employment. He or she will use the same weapons; use the same equipment and wear the same uniform. Reservists experience new challenges, learn new skills and also receive tax free pay for their services.

The usual Reserve commitment is a Tuesday evening of work at the assigned barracks and one weekend a month. The weekend is when the excitement takes place: exercises in war-like scenarios often with live-fire activities.

Chris says in his Corps (Armoured Corps) the work of an Army Reservist will involve either ‘protected mobility’ or ‘reconnaissance’.

“Reconnaissance can be 10-20 kilometres ahead of the main body, scouting for enemy locations and activity and reporting back. They’ve got enough fire power to extract themselves if they strike trouble. Or they might be on escort duty and clear the way for a truck convoy.”

A Reservist must also commit to a minimum number of training days each year – for which they must be granted leave from their regular employment. They are also often deployed overseas.

“Over the last 12 years, around 11,000 Reservists have deployed on operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor and the Solomons,” says Chris. “That’s a significant portion of our Reserve Force working side-by-side with permanent members in a war-zone or peace-keeping.”

Joining the Reserves is a big commitment and potentially a great second career. It also provides the opportunity to develop new technical skills such as communications, weaponry, operating military vehicles and the comradeship that develops in such environments. Not to mention leadership and team building skills – all of which make a valuable contribution to our country.

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Article by: Defence Health