By John B. Snyder, Watervliet ArsenalOctober 5, 2017
WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. -- Seeing Soldiers here should not surprise anyone. After all, the Arsenal was created by Soldiers some 204 years ago and today, hosts units from the Army National Guard and from the Army and Marine Corps recruiting commands.
Nevertheless, what makes these troops stand out is that they are working side-by-side Arsenal employees even though the Arsenal is authorized only one Soldier ... its commander.
The six troops, who range in rank from Lieutenant Colonel to Sergeant, are here under the Defense Department's Personnel Force Innovation Program or PFI. This program allows select National Guard and Reserve service members to serve on active duty for one to three years. You would find them today here working in such areas as legal, transportation, environment, and information management.
According to the PFI home page, PFI fills critical manpower needs in DOD working capital fund activities by providing highly-skilled National Guard or Reserve service members on a reimbursable and fee-for-service basis. All service members on PFI active duty tours are volunteers who may use either civilian or military skills (or both) in their active duty tour assignments.
And it appears that the Arsenal's PFI troops have learned what many in the workforce have known here for years...the Arsenal is a great place to work.
Lt. Col. James Houlihan is an Army Reservist whose home station is normally the Keller Army Community Hospital, at West Point, N.Y., where he serves as an Environmental Science Engineer Officer. Now, he serves the Arsenal as an Environmental Protection Action Officer and seems to have adapted quickly to the unique nature of the Arsenal.
"It has been a great experience meeting new professionals, and experiencing the history and processes of the Arsenal," Houlihan said. "Everyone is so helpful and motivated at the Arsenal, and I am blessed to be selected from other environmental professionals to serve here."
1st Lt. Joseph Augustin is from the Army Reserve's 324th Expeditionary Signal Battalion out of Greenville, S.C., and he, too, echoes Houlihan's sentiments about working here.
"I have never been part of an organization where the atmosphere is that we are all family," Augustin said. "People here are friendly, genuinely happy, and they demonstrate great pride in the work that they do."
Augustin is an Information Assurance Security Officer here who assists that policy and procedures are in place for the workforce, as well ensuring that the Arsenal's computer network is secure from cyber-attacks.
Warrant Officer Jean Prendes, is from the Texas Army National Guard, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Austin, Texas. Prendes is a network administrator here and he, too, appreciates the value of working here.
"The PFI program has been a great experience, as it has allowed me to expand my knowledge on technologies not available to me at my home station, while contributing to the Arsenal's mission," Prendes said.. "It is exciting to work at a place that has such an importance piece in the U.S. Military."
The added Value for the PFI program is that the Arsenal can rapidly increase its internal readiness at a critical time, as manufacturing requirements to enhance Soldier readiness have increased by more than $100 million over last year.