The Headquarters Readiness and Integration Organization’s vision continues to be making it easy for Individual Reservists to serve. In addition to the 40-plus improvements we’ve made to get after that vision, we recently launched an IR survey. I’m grateful for the feedback we received.
“How satisfied are you serving as an IR?” “How often do your units utilize your specific skills with meaningful work while in status?” “Which processes do you find the biggest hardship as an IR?” These are just a few of the questions we asked all IRs in August. The goal of HQ RIO’s “Making it Easy to Serve” survey was to better understand and listen to how they perceive their service and the benefits and challenges or serving as an IR.
Thanks to a team of four IRs, Lt. Col. Jessica Schafer, Col. Charles Rich, Lt. Col. Erin Karl and Maj. Sergio Apedaile, we polled 7,611 people using SurveyMonkey to evaluate their overall experience as an IR. Thanks to the nearly 19% who responded, we heard you!
This feedback from IRs will be useful for us at HQ RIO, but I felt it was vitally important to make the results public and provide complete transparency. To view the complete, unabridged survey results, go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-JQCTF86HJ7/
Briefly, respondents said the biggest reasons they enjoy serving as an IR include the flexibility it offers, the opportunity to serve their country and their personal fulfillment of providing meaningful contributions.
When I meet with IRs around the globe, I definitely hear that the common positive factor for serving is the flexibility of the program. I am excited that the survey results echoed that.
We will continue to make this program as flexible as possible for you and support your unique work schedules and requests.
On the flip side, making it easy to serve means addressing the biggest concerns of Individual Reservists. In the survey, they said being an IR can be challenging due to the paperwork/administrative burdens, challenging information technology systems and difficulty getting immediate personal assistance via phone, email or myPers.
In addition to this, they said the most challenging programs include travel reimbursement, orders processing, military pay, medical administration and assignment actions. Those are certainly the areas where I hear from IRs most often and where HQ RIO is spending the majority of our time and resources.
I fight for resources, especially manning in travel and pay, on a regular basis and we’re adding personnel to both sections as money allows. We also launched a new orders process in two of the detachments recently, which makes it significantly easier to submit orders requests and eliminates the need to provide most substantiating documents. This will soon roll out to all detachments.
While there are some processes and systems that are out of HQ RIO’s control, there are others we can fix. And these are just a few of the improvements we’re implementing to make it easy to serve.
To find a full list of current initiatives, click on https://www.arpc.af.mil/HQ-RIO/easy-to-serve-initiatives/.
Additionally, because readiness is one of AFRC’s top priorities, we asked how difficult it is to maintain readiness requirements. The survey results say it is relatively easy to maintain fitness, upgrade training and security clearances, but it is difficult to maintain medical and dental readiness requirements.
We will continue to focus our efforts to help IRs maintain their readiness and conducted a continuous process improvement event in November to focus specifically on readiness.
In the meantime, we recently published two memos and supporting documents that can directly assist IRs when getting medical and dental care. The memos outline the mandatory support the active military treatment facilities must provide.
The feedback provided in the survey will continue to drive action for HQ RIO and make it easier for IRs to serve. We will also continue to collaborate with decision makers and process owners outside of HQ RIO to address your concerns.
Thanks for all you do! #ReserveReady
(Boehle is the commander HQ RIO.) ■