April 23 marked the 112th birthday of the U.S. Army Reserve, a force of almost 190,000 warrior-citizens, serving in 20 time zones across the nation and around the world.


While 112th birthdays are rarely noteworthy, this commemoration falls upon a time like no other, the global COVID-19 pandemic. The men and women of our Army Reserve, like so many who serve in other vital organizations, have answered their nation’s call to duty during this emergency.


They include soldiers like Army Reserve Lt. Col. Melinda Henderson of Brentwood, a physician assigned to Boston Hope Hospital, a temporary COVID-19 facility set up at the Boston Convention and Event Center in Massachusetts.


Henderson joined the Army Reserve 18 months ago, at the age of 42. “I wondered if I was a little crazy,” she said, reflecting not only upon her age but her medical specialty. She’s a geriatrician, an expert in the branch of medicine dealing with the health and care of older people.


“What would the Army ever need with a geriatrician?” she wondered, looking back at her decision to join the [Army] Reserve.


It turns out that the response to COVID-19, a virus that has ravaged older adults who have been infected, needed soldiers like Henderson. 


“So, it ends up the Army really needs a geriatrician and I am finding myself at the right place at the right time,” she said.


Henderson is one of more than 1,200 Army Reserve medical professionals who have been mobilized as part of the Department of Defense response to COVID-19. She is a member of our Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces, which were designed to assist the civilian medical community by delivering a wide range of critical medical capabilities.


She is part of an 85-soldier team, working with other medical providers, nurses, respiratory therapists and others, to support up to 250 patients.


In doing so, Henderson takes her place in the century-plus tradition of service by the Army Reserve to our nation. What began in 1908 as a small corps of medical professionals held in readiness for duty is today the Army’s operational reserve force, with a presence in all 50 states and five U.S. territories.


The Organized Reserve was created under the National Defense Act of 1916.  A year later, when America entered World War I, more than 160,000 Reserve Soldiers were mobilized to help the Army defeat Germany and the Central Powers. By World War II, more than 200,000 had joined the fight, serving on every front.


Through two world wars, the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, the 

Global War on Terror and countless other crises, operations and emergencies, the Army Reserve has never failed to meet the challenges of its time.


I am proud to serve as one of Tennessee’s four Army Reserve Ambassadors, working with fellow civilians Douglas Gilbert of Nashville, Andrew Oppmann of Murfreesboro and Leslie Purser of Dandridge to support the almost 4,000 Army Reserve soldiers in our great state.


We support soldiers like Colonel Henderson, who like so many in history of our Volunteer State answered the call of our nation to do her duty. Supporting her afar from Brentwood is her husband, Russell, and their children, Nora, Kate and Jack.


The world is constantly changing, but one thing is constant: The Army Reserve will remain the dedicated federal reserve of the most decisive and lethal land force in the world – ready to deploy, fight and win, whenever needed, at home and around the world.


My fellow Tennessee ambassadors and I extend our thanks to all of the dedicated soldiers and civilian employees of America’s Army Reserve, and to the families, employers and communities that support them.  


Army Reserve Ambassador (emeritus) John L. Dyess of Franklin, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, is president of Dyess & Associates Tax Consultants.

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