HRC deputy CG retires after 32 years of service

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After 32 years of Army service, the deputy commanding general for U.S. Army Human Resources Command retired at a Fort Knox ceremony Friday.

McLean, Mississippi native, Brig. Gen. Lynne Owens, one of only two African-American female general officers in the Army Reserve, signed up for Army Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1984 during her junior year at the University of Southern Mississippi. The decision came after a friend urged her to join.

“She said they will pay you $100 a month, so I signed up the next day,” Owens said. “I joined for the money, but I didn’t stay for the money. I fell in love with it.”

Owens originally intended to serve only the amount of time required to fulfill her obligation. She changed her mind after discovering the satisfaction of working personnel actions and taking care of Soldiers during her first assignment with 85th Division in Chicago. The only Soldier in the unit with human resources experience, she was charged with providing support for the overall welfare of the Soldiers.

“When Soldiers aren’t getting their awards and promotions on time, it decreases morale,” Owens said. “To be able to put systems in place and see those things happen and see that immediate gratification that Soldiers and Families have (is) what I was most passionate about.”

She held three positions with U.S. Army Reserve Command headquarters at Fort McPherson, Georgia, and deployed to Kuwait with U.S. Army Reserve Command Personnel Division out of Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Throughout her career, Owens strived to write policies that met Soldiers’ needs by seeking input and feedback from Soldiers before implementing them.

“We’d bring in younger Soldiers and get them to talk about a new policy we had come up with and ask, ‘How is this going to work for you?’” Owens said.

As the deputy for HRC, she recently solicited Soldier feedback on a new action tracking system.

“What we thought we were going to have in place ended up being totally revamped because it wasn’t really what the younger Soldiers wanted and what would work best for them,” Owens said. “In the end, we came up with a product that worked great for all of the Army Reserve. And it was because we were able to reach out to the lower ranking Soldiers.”

Promoted to brigadier general three years ago, Owens said she never thought she would ever become a general officer and always just focused on doing each job well. She credited her success to the passion she holds for her career, the support she received from teammates, Family and friends, and the strong work ethic her mom instilled in her.

Owens still loves the Army and taking care of Soldiers, but after more than three decades of service, she admitted it was time to retire and spend time with her husband and Family.

Although she hasn’t given much thought to what kind of work she would like to do next, Owens said it will be something for which she is passionate. n