For Specialists Jose' Duprey and Emilio Aguiar, coming off active duty into the Army Reserve meant new challenges.

Aguiar was looking to maintain his skill set as a carpenter at a tempo he was accustomed to on active duty. Many of Duprey's acquaintances told the former Marine that the Army Reserve would not meet his expectations.

"I was fortunate to come to a place that has the same mindset," said Aguiar. "It's about accomplishing a task."

"These Soldiers…come here to work, they aren't here to slack off," said Duprey.

Aguiar and Duprey are members of the 758th Engineer Company in Miami. The unit takes advantage of training opportunities during battle assemblies by participating in the Innovative Readiness Training program.

IRT exercises provide real world training opportunities that prepare service members for their wartime missions, while supporting the needs of America's underserved communities.

"Rebuilding Together" is a non-profit organization that caters to the needs of the elderly, the handicapped and military veterans. Working with the charity, 758th engineers renovate homes in the Miami area.

The Soldiers handle the electrical, plumbing, carpentry and masonry, and the charity pays for the materials.

1st Lt. Johnny Walker, executive officer, 758th Engineer Company, said the unit's involvement with the IRT program has given Soldiers like Aguiar and Duprey something to be proud of.

"When we started doing these projects morale shot through the roof," said Walker. "They're learning, they're progressing, remembering what they were taught, plus learning new things that you don't get in MOS schools."

Aguiar and Duprey have transitioned smoothly into their roles as citizen Soldiers, and are now team leaders. Their combined experiences and positive attitudes allow them to be examples for younger Soldiers.

Page last updated Tue January 31st, 2012 at 09:31