Ohio Military Reserve
|Type||State defense force|
|Headquarters||Haubrich Armory Columbus, Ohio.|
|COL Richard J. Vasquez|
|Adjutant General of The State of Ohio|
|Ohio National Guard|
The Ohio Military Reserve (OHMR) is a military force which supports the State of Ohio along with the Ohio Army National Guard and Ohio Air National Guard in times of natural disaster and state and national emergencies.
The Ohio Military Reserve serves under the Governor as Commander-in-Chief through the office of the Adjutant General of Ohio and is headquartered at the Haubrich Armory in Columbus, Ohio.
The Ohio Military Reserve had its roots in the Ohio Militia, which was formed in 1803. At that time, every state within the United States had its own militia. The militia existed to protect a state's residents from attack, whether it was from Native Americans, other countries, or internal revolts. Most states required able-bodied men to participate in the militia. Age limits existed in all states, with most states requiring men between the ages of eighteen and forty-five to participate in the militia.
The Ohio Militia played an important role in the state's early history. Militiamen helped United States soldiers subdue Ohio's Indian people. During the War of 1812, the Ohio Militia helped defend the American Northwest from British invasion. Following this conflict, the Ohio Militia still existed, but it declined in importance. With the death of the Shawnee leader Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames in 1813, most Ohioans no longer faced major threats from the Native Americans. The United States also remained at peace with other nations until the Mexican War began in 1846. During this prolonged era of peace, Ohio's state government reduced funding to the militia to set aside money for other programs.
With the outbreak of the American Civil War in April 1861, Ohio Governor William Dennison dispatched George McClellan and Jacob Cox to the state arsenal in Columbus to investigate the guns and other supplies that Ohio had on hand to help equip the state's militia units. The two men discovered a few crates of rusted smoothbore muskets, mildewed harnesses for horses, and some six-pound cannons that could not be fired. Despite the lack of equipment, Dennison encouraged Ohio communities to revive the militia system and form units that they would send to Columbus, the state capital. Dennison entrusted McClellan with command of these units, asking him to create a cohesive and professional force out of the volunteers. Most of these units formed the basis of Ohio Volunteer Infantry units, which the State of Ohio eventually provided to the United States government for the war against the South.
Following the Civil War, the Ohio Militia remained in existence, but it again experienced a decline. In 1903, the United States government implemented the Dick Act, which formally created the National Guard. One of the principal reasons for this new law was the poor condition of state militia organizations. Most state militia units now became National Guard units. Before creation of the National Guard, state militia units, in theory, only existed to protect their states.
States still oversaw the new National Guard units, which were primarily to serve in their own states. However, the federal government could now nationalize National Guard units and send them into other states or even other countries without the approval of the units' home states. Today, both Army National Guard and Air National Guard units exist in Ohio, and many Ohioans belong to these organizations. Members of the National Guard receive pay and other benefits, including financial assistance to attend college. A desire to serve and the various financial benefits cause many Americans to enlist in National Guard units.
Despite the existence of the National Guard, Ohio still maintained its own militia force. The Dick Act prohibited states from retaining their own militia systems. Ohio was one of the states that chose not to follow the federal mandate and maintain such a force. A principal reason for the continuation of the Ohio Militia was the desire to protect Lake Erie. There was no Naval National Guard. With Ohio having a water boundary with Canada, Ohio leaders felt the need to maintain a naval component to its militia force. In 2006, Ohio was one of only five states with a naval force.
Following World War II, the Ohio government established the Ohio Defense Corps, which is now known as the Ohio Military Reserve. The Ohio Defense Corps was a continuation of the Ohio Militia. In 1961, Ohio implemented a law that made all of Ohio's men and women between seventeen and sixty-seven years of age eligible for duty in the Ohio Military Reserve. In 2006, the Ohio Military Reserve numbered just six hundred members. Its primary purpose was to expand quickly to assist Ohioans in case of natural disasters or enemy attack. The state government now relied primarily upon the Ohio National Guard for the state's defense, as well as to assist in natural disasters and other types of emergencies. However, if the Ohio National Guard was either unavailable or in need of assistance, the Ohio Military Reserve stood ready to support the Guard.
For almost three decades, Ohio Military Reserve trained and operated as a military police entity and was organized as a corps. Standard training included riot control and firearms proficiency. The OHMR stood ready to provide security support for the state. Over the years, some support services were provided to various private organizations in an unofficial capacity. Ceremonial services were also provided for parades, funerals, and holidays. However, there was never an official activation by the Governor or Adjutant General.
In September 2009, then Adjutant General MG Gregory L. Wayt implemented several dramatic changes to the OHMR. Instead of training for police and security duties, the OHMR would now shift its focus to disaster response and civil support. In addition, the organization was transformed from a Corps into the 4th Civil Support & Sustainment Brigade (CSSB), thereby changing the entire command structure.
Personnel began to train for new jobs, including: points of distribution (POD), shelter management, and volunteer reception centers (VRC). The transition took three years, but in September 2012, the OHMR completed the final evaluations at their Annual Training (AT). In the eyes of the AG and the State of Ohio, the organization was considered fully trained, mission ready, and deployable. This brought a new sense of pride to the OHMR and helped to establish itself as a part of the state’s official emergency response. Today, the OHMR stands ready to deploy anywhere in the state at a moment’s notice.
Personnel and Training
Approximately 1/3rd of all OHMR soldiers have served in various branches of the US armed forces. Enlistment is voluntary, however all soldiers swear an oath of enlistment or appointment. Officers hold state, not federal, commissions. Units are co-located in state-owned readiness centers (armories) with National Guard units across the state. Most units drill one weekend a month and all troops must attend one week of training annually (annual training, or AT). In the past, troops trained with pistols and shotguns, however, the cost of maintenance and annual re-certification has caused this training to be dropped. Although they are covered by the State’s insurance and workers’ compensation program, soldiers are not paid for their training time or AT period. However, if mobilized, they would be compensated. §5903.02 of the Ohio Revised Code provides OHMR personnel protection under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act (USERRA) which addresses military leave from employment for both training and deployment.
Members of OHMR wear woodland pattern BDU's/TRU's with no immediate plans to adopt the ACU as some other state guards have done. The members of OHMR are authorized to wear the Army Service Uniform (ASU), with the exception of a red, rather than black, nameplate, OHMR or Ohio buttons, and SDF specific insignia. The OHMR wears the service cap (with modified insignia) with the ASU as well as the black beret with the red "state defense force" flash worn by some other states.
Promotions are dependent on time in grade / time in service, satisfactory duty performance (including drill attendance), and completion of professional development courses, per the OHMR promotion matrix.
The OHMR maintains a military training academy to conduct state versions of standard Army professional development courses such as Basic Entry Level Training (required for all non-prior service personnel), Primary Leadership Development Course, Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course, and the Basic Officer Course. Advanced Officer and NCO coursework consists largely of online courses available through the Army Correspondence Course Program and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Other branches of the military such as the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force also open their courses to State Guard personnel.
The OHMR qualification is the Military Emergency Management qualification, including Basic, Senior and Master level qualifications, issued through the State Guard Association of the United States (SGAUS). MEMS qualifications are earned following completion of specified online and residential coursework, attendance at local or state Emergency Management Agency events, and completion of an After Action Report on the event.
In 2009, the OHMR underwent a reorganization which was more mission focused. The first step was to change its Military Police designation to Civil Support and Sustainment units. This was more in keeping with the OHMR's mission to provide support to both civil and military authorities during natural disasters and homeland security incidents. The Adjutant General of the State of Ohio (TAG)directed that the OHMR be mission ready by FY 2012-2013 to assume taskings to support Emergency Support Function (ESF) 6 and ESF 7 operations.
Effective 1 October 2009, the OHMR began a transformation process that took it from its former mission as a cadre state defense force held in reserve to its current mission as an active force to aid in operating mass care facilities (ESF 6) and warehouses, distribution centers, and support facilities (ESF 7), and to support the coordination of volunteer activities in the event of major natural disasters or attacks on the homeland.
The need for this type of military element became apparent following Hurricane Katrina. The transformation emphasized the fact that the OHMR consists of a willing, all-volunteer organization that can assume duties normally performed by uncoordinated and unorganized volunteers during natural disasters and other contingencies. Their presence will ensure basic essential functions are performed in a timely, organized manner, and will free up essential manpower and time for other critical functions.
The OHMR has a "sister service", the Ohio Naval Militia which operates out of Camp Perry, located near Port Clinton, Ohio.
Under Ohio law, members of the Ohio Military Reserve are guaranteed the same employment rights and protections as federal reservists enjoy under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Among other legal rights guaranteed under this provision, OHMR members are protected from discrimination based on their membership in the OHMR both during the hiring process and after becoming employed; they are also guaranteed a leave of absence from their places of employment whenever they are activated for training or to take part in an emergency, and their employers are required to reinstate these employees to their previous positions when they return from deployment.
Members of the OHMR, being a part of the Ohio Organized Militia are treated as law enforcement officers and are immune from arrest during state active duty deployment except in case of treason or felony when aiding the civil authorities after being called upon by the Governor with executing the laws of the state, suppressing insurrection, repelling invasion, or promoting the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of this state. Arrest powers are limited in scope in that the arrest must be made with the immediate intent to deliver the person in custody to civil authorities.
Awards and decorations
The OHMR issues multiple awards and decorations to its members, and allows members to wear OHMR-approved ribbons from the State Guard Association of the United States. Members are also permitted to be awarded certain State of Ohio, Ohio National Guard awards when approved by the Adjutant General of the State of Ohio.
- OHMR Medal of Valor
- OHMR Distinguished Service Medal
- OHMR Medal of Merit
- OHMR Purple Cross Medal
- OHMR Lifesaving Medal
- OHMR Commendation Award
- OHMR Achievement Award
- OHMR Search and Rescue Award
- OHMR Community Service Award
- OHMR Aid to Civil Authority Award
- OHMR Good Conduct Award
- OHMR Longevity Service Award
- OHMR Soldier of the Year Award
- OHMR Honor Graduate Award
- OHMR Officer Training Graduate Award
- OHMR NCO Training Graduate Award
- OHMR Basic Entry Level Training Graduate Award
- OHMR Physical Fitness Award
- OHMR Federal Service School Award
- OHMR Military Indoctrination Award
- OHMR Emergency Service Training Award
- OHMR Volunteer Service Award
- OHMR Military Award Readiness
- OHMR Recruiting Achievement Award
- OHMR Military Proficiency Award
- State Guard Association of the United States Membership Ribbon
- State Guard Association of Ohio Member Ribbon
- OHMR Outstanding Unit Citation Award
- OHMR Commanding General's Meritorious Unit Service Award
- "5903.02 Reinstatement and reemployment rights". Ohio General Assembly. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
- ORC § 5923.01. (A)(3)
- ORC § 5923.27. (A)
- ORC § 5923.231.
- "Ohio Military Reserve Awards and Decorations" (PDF). Ohio Military Reserve Official Website. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 May 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
- "OHMR Ribbon Rack Builder". Ohio Knowledge Online. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
-  National Guard Regulation 10-4 State Defense Forces, National Guard Bureau, State National Guard Interaction