By Shayna BroukerApril 30, 2012
SAN ANTONIO -- From his birthplace of West Point, Miss., to Korea, Germany, and a handful of places in between, the Army has taken Maj. Gen. Reuben D. Jones around the world. But he can't stay away from Jackson, Miss.
Jones returned to his hometown Saturday to commission three Jackson State University Tiger Battalion Reserve Officer Training Corps students into the Army. With 34 years in the Army himself, Jones, who is now deputy commanding general for operations at the Installation Management Command in San Antonio, Texas, had a lot to say to the new officers and credited his upbringing in West Jackson, Jackson Public Schools and JSU with getting him there.
"I learned everything about the Army right here at Jackson State. You've received the best leadership training and education available anywhere at any cost -- now it's time to put it to use in the service, not only for your country, but of the soldiers and families who will continue to make up our all-volunteer force into the future," he said. "Our Army is waiting on you to take the mantle of leadership."
In his current post at IMCOM, and as former commander of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command, Jones lives and breathes serving soldiers. IMCOM's three-pronged enterprise provides services for soldiers and their families on 71 Army garrisons worldwide. It ensures that every garrison has sustainable, standardized public works, housing, child care and support programs like Survivor Outreach Services.
With the war in Afghanistan drawing down and thousands of soldiers returning home every month, it's an increasingly important mission.
"Our Army has made a big commitment to taking care quality of lives of soldiers," he said. "Everything we do is for the soldier."
Before leading operations at IMCOM, Jones commanded the Army's FMWR Command. The $3.5-billion for-profit enterprise continues to develop quality-of-life programs and facilities that enhance soldiers' and families' wellbeing. It owns resorts, hotels, restaurants, gyms, leisure and entertainment facilities and golf courses that turn revenue into recreation opportunities for soldiers and their families.
It's an Army that has come a long way since Jones joined in 1978.
"The all-volunteer force that began to take shape in the 1970s became the best Army in the world because leaders recognized that the best people had choices: They wanted to serve their country, but they wanted to share in the life they were willing to fight and die for," he said. "You recruit a soldier but you retain a family."
With that, Jones commissioned three more soldiers into the Army family. 2nd Lt. Belleus will attend the Quartermaster Corps Basic Officer leadership Course in Ft. Lee, Va. His first duty assignment is with the 1st Armor Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division in Ft. Hood, Texas. 2nd Lt. Jones will also attend the Quartermaster Corps Basic Officer leadership Course in Ft. Lee, Va. 2nd Lt. Fisher will train at the Engineering Officer Leadership Course at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., and then serve there with the 4th Combat Support Brigade.
Haiti native Belleus, whose family flew from Florida to see him commission, said the Army was his first choice growing up.
"Words can't convey how excited I am," he said.
Robert Blaine, Ph.D., interim associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and artistic director of the Mississippi Youth Symphony Orchestra, likened leadership to conducting an orchestra.
"As an orchestra conductor, you're the weakest person in the room. You have to convince everyone else you know what you're talking about without saying a word," he remarked. "If you can do that and make people feel good about it, you will be a leader."
Jones challenged the students to give back to the communities that raised them and to use their talents as a leader to mold others. He thanked the families for their support along the way.
"They are ready to lead our nation's most prized resources: America's sons and daughters," he said. "Your Army, your nation, needs them."
Jones is the only JSU Tiger Battalion alumnus to earn the rank of major general. He is married to Linda Jones. They have two children, Tiffany Ruiz and Reuben Jones, Jr., and two grandchildren, Rafael and Isabela Alicia.