TAMPA, Fla. -- In the first of many to come, the U.S. Army Reserve Command held the initial Individual Ready Reserve Muster here in May.

The IRR Muster will be an annual event, held at various locations around the country, where Soldiers assigned to the IRR report to a central location in order to maintain accountability and update their files.

The James A. Haley Veterans Hospital hosted the initial event for local IRR Soldiers who have completed their initial active-duty or Reserve time. In order to fulfill their entire eight-year contract, they are required to serve two to four years in the Individual Ready Reserve. Soldiers in the IRR are subject to recall to active duty if their skills are needed again by the active component.

While the main purpose of the IRR Muster is to maintain contact and accountability of the IRR Soldiers, it is also an opportunity for the Soldiers to review their records and wrap up any outstanding issues from their previous service.

Some of the services offered were identification cards, health assessments and access to Veterans Administration services. The Tampa Muster was offered in conjunction with a job fair organized by the Haley Veterans Hospital with more than 100 employers represented to aid Soldiers with finding civilian employment.

Soldiers choose to go into the IRR for various reasons.

Sgt. Michael Garrison chose to join the IRR instead of a Reserve Unit for the remainder of his initial obligation due to family illness.

"It's not that I didn't want to join a Reserve unit, it's my family," he said. "My dad is 68 years old and not in the best of health. Helping him keep going is the most important thing right now," he added.

In the IRR the Soldiers can continue to further their careers, as was the case with Garrison. He was promoted during the Tampa Muster from specialist to sergeant. Before leaving active duty, he had attended a promotion board, trying to get promoted before he separated - he was not successful. Once in the IRR however, he continued to acquire time-in-service and grade, and was eventually eligible for promotion.

Soldiers in the IRR have the same career opportunities that are available for other Soldiers. They can take advantage of an affiliation bonus of up to $10,000 for a three-year commitment to a Reserve unit with a 24-month non-deployment period.

The IRR Muster program was initiated in 2009 to help ensure all Soldiers within its' ranks are as ready as possible for return to active duty should they be needed again.

Muster or gathering is a new program from the Human Resources Command.

As the name implies, the Inactive Ready Reserve Soldiers play an integral and important part of the United States Army and the Army Reserve. They are trained Soldiers who are currently inactive, but are ready at a moment's notice to serve their country again. IRR Musters help ensure this integral part of our Armed Forces sustain their maximum deployability for times of need, officials said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16