When Ashley Hall was first approached to serve as U.S. Army Reserve ambassador, he had to think about it.
"They had to talk to me several times before I would agree," he said.
After all, Hall had retired in 2000 as a brigadier general from the Nevada Army National Guard after more than 35 years of military service, and was concentrating on his own business, Ashley Hall & Associates Inc., a management and consulting firm.
But the calls kept coming to encourage him to serve, and in the end he could not say no to an opportunity to serve soldiers and their families.
"I looked at it and said it’s worth doing," Hall said.
He was appointed to his post by Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz in February 2009 for an initial three-year term.
"Since that time, I go out and do whatever I can to assist troops, help families and assist organizational groups," Hall said.
Ambassadors volunteer their time and services to support Army Reserve soldiers and their families by encouraging community support, legislative efforts and employer support.
They meet with federal, state and local government officials, provide community outreach assistance to Army Reserve members and families and participate in Yellow Ribbon Programs designed to help soldiers and families meet the needs and challenges with deployment, reunions and employment/educational opportunities.
They also build relationships to improve understanding of the Army Reserve within the business and social sectors of communities, and they serve as advocates for the USAR to congressional officials, governors and the public.
Hall’s many years of service in the public, private and military sectors in the Las Vegas Valley serve him well as ambassador.
"Because of where I’ve been and what I’ve done, I can tell people where to go, who to contact and what services are available to them," he said.
He is the senior Nevada commissioner for the Southwest Defense Alliance (SWDA), whose goal is to protect, maintain and enhance the air/ground range and military installations located in Nevada, California, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Texas. Hall also is a member and founder of the Nellis Support Team.
He served as Las Vegas city manager for many years, and is a retired executive vice president of Orgill/Singer and Associates, one of Nevada’s largest insurance and investment brokers. In addition, he serves or has served on many civic and community organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America and the Nevada Chapter of the Old Spanish Trail Association.
Having served in the National Guard for 35 years gives Hall a keen understanding of the sacrifices made by citizen soldiers and their families, and keeps him ready to handle their requests.
Pat Lundvall, a close friend of Hall and his family, said he is well-suited for the ambassadorship, which she called "a critically important function."
"I think our National Guard and our Reserve units have had the hardest time in Iraq and Afghanistan. They don’t have a base, and they don’t have a unit," she said. "They come back to the real world, hoping for a job, hoping their family is still intact. They don’t have the same support system that the regular military does."
Hall has "very much a human touch, and a human element" that enables him to connect with the soldiers and their families, Lundvall said.
"If I had to sum up his character in one word, it would be ‘exemplary,’" she said .
To be an effective ambassador takes "true knowledge of the community," she said. "There are a lot of resources out there, but sometimes people are almost blind to how to navigate those waters."
Lundvall said Hall, in his role as chaplain in the National Guard, married Lundvall and Jerry Bussell, who became friends with Hall during their service in the National Guard.
When Bussell died in 2010, Hall was the first person she reached out to .
He was again there for her, leading a memorial service for Bussell, who also served as Nevada’s first director of homeland security.
"That’s one of the things you would hope from ambassador and you would hope from your friend, and he served in a dual capacity in that respect," Lundvall said.
Hall likens the role of ambassador as similar to the role of chaplain.
It might be pointing a soldier or spouse to the right contact for answers to their questions. It could be helping get young sons of soldiers serving overseas into a Boy Scout program.
Or it could mean helping ensure a soldier paralyzed from the waist down gets the best treatment possible. In this particular case, Hall helped get him a transfer to a specialist at Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, Calif.
Hall said he stresses the importance of the Yellow Ribbon Programs to soldiers and their families.
"All of the essential services organizations participate, and we can generally hook up soldiers and families with those contact services they need," he said.
In his role as ambassador, Hall has spoken to more than 10,000 troops at various Yellow Ribbon and other events.
The ambassador program also focuses on employment for returning reservists, Hall said.
Hall reaches out to companies and business in Nevada, and stays in contact with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He also talks to politicians and civic leaders about the need to provide good jobs for returning reservists.
"Everybody needs to help these people get jobs. I just worry about getting these people, who have been in harm’s way for so long, and some of them come back a little broken," Hall said. "One of the things to help them get back and get going again is some kind of meaningful work. If they have some meaningful work to go to each day, their chances of becoming whole again are better."
Hall may be reached by email at Ashleyhall1@cox.net.