FORT JACKSON, S.C. – Over twenty U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers raised their right hand to reaffirm their oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, at the 81st Readiness Division headquarters building Jan. 21, 2022.
The Army Reserve Careers Group organized the mass reenlistment event and invited area Soldiers and their families to join Maj. Gen. Bob Harter, commanding general of the 81st Readiness Division, in the unit's conference room.
Before swearing their oath, Harter invited the Soldiers to share a bit about their service and why they are continuing in the Army Reserve. Many re-enlistees said they wanted to continue to serve their country, others to be a positive example for their children, and some to surpass their parent's military rank.
One Soldier in attendance, Staff Sgt. Catherine Penman, part of the 81st RD's historian section, had a much more practical reason when asked.
"I have 16 and a half years in, so I might as well keep going," she said.
Penman says she initially said no when asked if she wanted to participate in the reenlistment event. She was at her civilian job when she received the call, busy, dismissing the invite.
But after realizing the gravity of her final reenlistment, Penman changed her mind and called the unit back.
"I thought about it and realized this was the last time I'm going to be able to do this," she said. "It's important, and I'll go ahead and do it, and I hope– inspire some Soldiers who might be thinking about reenlisting."
Penman says she originally planned to join the Army Reserve, earn benefits for college, and get out. Before she knew it, 13 years had passed, and she was on the downhill slope toward a reserve pension and retirement benefits.
She also says she continues to serve because of her experiences traveling the world and all the friends she made during 16 years of service.
"I enjoy meeting different people. You meet all kinds of people, and I have contacts and Facebook friends from those I've met throughout my time in the reserve," Penman said. "That's why I stay, to meet new people and to go to new places."
Before administering the oath of enlistment, Maj. Gen. Harter spoke to all the family members in attendance and thanked them for supporting their Soldiers, emphasizing the importance of Army Reserve families.
After the ceremony, Harter shared some closing remarks and invited all of the 81st Readiness Division Soldiers to come through and shake hands and thank the newly reenlisted Soldiers and their families for their service and the Army Reserve career counselors for their work in helping make the event happen.
About the 81st Readiness Division
The 81st Readiness Division has responsibility for base operations for Army Reserve units throughout the Southeastern United States and Puerto Rico. It is responsible for preparing Soldiers and units to deploy and fight in multi-domain operations and meet current and future combatant commander force requirements.