FORT LEE, Va. -- A member of Team Lee was recently appointed to the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Retired Soldier Council.
Retired Sgt. Maj. Michael A. Walker, who now serves as a training specialist at ALU’s Logistics Noncommissioned Officer Academy, is one of four new individuals named to the 14-member body headed by retired Lt. Gen. David D. Halverson and retired SMA Raymond F. Chandler III. Walker said CSARSC membership allows him to advocate for the Army retiree community on a larger stage.
“They’ve provided me with an opportunity to impact – through compassion and drive – Army retirees and their families all over the world,” he said.
The CSARSC, established in 1960, operates under the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel headquartered at the Pentagon. Its primary mission is to provide the Army Chief of Staff with advice and recommendations about vital issues affecting the retired military community. It represents more than 1 million individuals and surviving spouses.
Walker, who retired here in 2010 after a 30-year career, has served as a member of the Fort Lee Retiree Council since 2014. The Southampton County native is co-chair of the 18-member volunteer body along with retired Col. Gregory A. Mason. The council serves to voice the concerns and issues impacting the 40,000 retirees living in the central Virginia region.
The FLRC’s most recent achievements include helping to bolster attendance at the annual Retiree Appreciation Day that provides information updates, health screenings and other services for local retirees; and playing a pivotal role in establishing the Military Retiree Appreciation Ball in 2015.
“It has been a great success,” Walker said of the latter, noting attendance has grown over the years. “We’ve had people fly in from places as near as West Virginia and as far as Florida to attend the event. We’re the only installation that hosts a ball for our retirees.”
The Soldier for Life Retirement Services Office serves as FLRC’s administrator. Its chief, Cassandra Rawls, said an interview with Walker prior to his council appointment left no doubt he possesses the attributes necessary to advocate for the retiree community.
“He has a real concern and compassion,” she confirmed. “His persona exhibits an understanding of how to take care of Soldiers after their service, and he puts forth an effort to make sure everyone he works with understands the role of taking care of retired Soldiers and service members. I think that’s a good asset and a good addition to the team.”
Since his appointment, Rawls said Walker has been complementary in every way.
“He – if I could use an old cliché – brought a boots-on-the-ground attitude to do whatever work that needed to be done, absent of a title,” she said. “He really ran with the concept ‘I do the same work as everyone else’ and never came off as dictatorial. He worked hard to make sure retirees understood we were there for them.”
Walker, a Greenville County church pastor, said he joined the Army to make a difference. As a retiree, he has fully embraced the idea of giving back.
“When we realize our life has changed for the better, we are required to give back to those who paved the way to help us get where we are today,” he said.
The CSARSC is scheduled to meet sometime during April, said Walker. He added his first priority is to put himself in an observation mode.
“I’ve always been taught to be quick to listen and slow to speak,” he said.
Among his long-term goals are to be a voice for the central region retirees and continue to improve the means of communication with that population.
“I believe if we fail to inform our retiree family, we’re failing our communities,” he said.
Walker emphasized he is grateful for the support he has received from the Retiree Services Office; the FLRC; the U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Lee; CASCOM; and the many other organizations and individuals he has worked with over the past five years.