What is the Army Reserve? 10 Facts About the Branch's History and Army Reserve Jobs

By Sandi Gohn

Founded on April 23, 1908, the Army Reserve is a diverse group of dedicated citizen-soldiers who serve part-time in the military while simultaneously maintaining a civilian career and lifestyle.

We dug up 10 need-to-know facts about this group of civilian soldiers. Take a look:

1. Army reservists who have been called to active duty and have served for 10 or more years are eligible to receive the Armed Forces Reserve Medal.

The medal, which can be awarded to reservists from any branch, was originally created by President Harry Truman in 1950 to acknowledge the pivotal role they play in the nation’s defense. Today, reservists who have served for multiple decades or have participated in certain conflicts are eligible to receive additional accommodations, called “devices,” on the medal ribbon.

Nimoy stands at attention with a mop in 1953. | Photo credit U.S. Army Photo

2. Actor Leonard Nimoy, who grew to fame in the role as Spock on the television series “Star Trek,” enlisted in the Reserve in 1953 and served 18 months, leaving as a sergeant.

Nimoy passed away in 2015, at the age of 83.

3. More than one famous face served in the Army Reserve.

Alan Alda, who is best known for playing Hawkeye on the television series “M.A.S.H.,” was in the Army ROTC program during his undergraduate studies at Fordham University and later served as an Army Reserve artillery officer upon graduation. During his years in the military, Alda deployed to Korea, serving six months on the ground during the Korean War. Alda, who is now 86, was honored at the 2019 Screen Actor Guild Awards with the year’s Life Achievement Award.

4. Army reservists come from all 50 states as well as Washington, D.C., Saipan, Guam, Samoa, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

There are even reservists in Korea, Germany and Italy.

5. As of 2022, approximately200,000 men and women serve as “weekend warriors.”

Together as part of the Army Reserve, their 2,075 units account for roughly 20% of the entire U.S. Army’s fighting force.

6. During the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Army reservists had an additional reason to cheer on team USA.

1st Army Lt. Sam Kendricks, a pole vaulter and Army reservist, gained the admiration of thousands when he stopped mid-attempt during a preliminary round to stand attention for the national anthem. Kendricks went on to win a bronze medal later in the games.

7. Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Army reservists have been deployed to every major combat zone and to 30 countries.

They’ve also fought in WWI, WWII, the Cold War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War.

Photo credit DIVIDS/Army Capt. Loyal Auterson

A flight paramedic escorts a mother and her child off of a helicopter during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

8. During Hurricane Harvey, which caused catastrophic damage and historical flooding in Houston in 2017, Army reservists were among the first responders.

Soldiers conducted rescues, housed stranded individuals, delivered supplies and worked hand-in-hand with local authorities for weeks to help communities recover from the storm.

Capt. Deshauna Barber poses. | Photo credit DIVIDS/Army Master Sgt. Valerie Resciniti

9. Capt. Deshauna Barber, who currently serves in the Army Reserve, became the first and only service member to win the Miss USA title in 2016.

During her time as Miss USA, Barber advocated for military-related causes and worked with several charities, including the USO.

10. The Army Reserve is more diverse than its Guard or active-duty counterparts.

Over 40% are part of a minority group.

-This story was originally published on USO.org in 2019. It has been updated in 2022.

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