Did you know that 50% of our military forces are made up of the part-time personnel? I did not either until I attended an event at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst called Seven Seals Boss Lift, which is an annual event hosted by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves (ESGR). The ESGR is a Department of Defense office that was established in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers. This event occurs every year and its purpose is to thank employers who hire members of the Reserves and the Guard and to allow them a peek into the lives of their employees when they leave for training and what they do when they are at training. As a participant I experienced the training of our medics in a brand new facility with state of the art “dummies” that are wirelessly controlled by military personnel during a training session in order to control heart rate, breathing rate, blood flow, eye function and the ability to communicate. Additional experiences included a simulated roll-over in a HUM-V, a patrol of a village in the middle east that resulted in a firefight with members of the Taliban, refueling a jet fighter plane somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, and best of all a ready to eat meal (MRE). The simulators that are used at the Joint Base make this only one of two training facilities of its kind in the world for our Guard and Reservists. The base serves as home and work to more than 44,000 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, civilians and their family members having a considerable impact on the economy of NJ.
This was a two day event and at the close of the event there was a ceremony that entailed the signing of a document by all those employers who attended acknowledging their support of the ESGR and those Guard and Reservists who serve our country. I was very proud to represent AIANJ at this event just to raise awareness to our members about this organization and especially for those AIA members who do serve as Guard and Reservists. Currently AIA does not track members that have served or currently serve our country and so I took the time to meet with AIA Membership staff at the Convention to discuss this. With the launch of the new AIA website and digital transformation, it is possible for them to include additional check off boxes on the member profile page so that AIA can capture this information and we can know just how many AIA members have served and are currently serving our Country. I want to thank Louis DiGeronimo AIA who serves as the Northeast Chair for the ESGR for inviting me to this event. Lou himself served in the US Army and operated a tank, and for as long as I have known him he has been involved as an Architect in military work including the design of a gymnasium in Kuwait during the Gulf War.
I also want to take the opportunity to thank all of our members who have served, are currently serving and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to our Country. The dedication and sacrifice that the men and women of our armed forces make to protect our country is a blessing to all of us that can experience the freedom that makes America the greatest country in the world. I am proud to be an American and am the son of Sailor who was a Veteran of the Vietnam War. Thanks Dad.
Justin A. Mihalik, AIA