History of ROA

The Reserve Officers Association of the United States, now known as the Reserve Organization of America to reflect its all-ranks membership, was founded during the difficult years after the first world war. With "the war to end all wars" won, complacency and isolationism swept across the American political landscape.

The Founders

The founders of ROA, veterans of World War I, believed America was vulnerable to return to its pre-war unpreparedness. Determined to help prevent the very unreadiness they had experienced, 140 officers gathered with General of the Armies John J. "Black Jack" Pershing at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., and on October 2, 1922, formally established ROA.

Addressing ROA's founders at the inaugural convention's opening session, General Pershing spoke of the importance of a strong Reserve force: "...the war brought home to us in a very striking manner the advisability of reasonable precaution - completely vindicated the advocates of military training and preliminary organization, and demonstrated beyond question the fallacy of pacifist theories." His speech was quoted in an article entitled "Reserve Officers Organize" in the October 3 New York Times.

As the political and national security context changed over nearly a century, ROA has remained committed to its original mission, then stated as "The object of this Association shall be to support and assist in the development and execution of a military policy for the United States which shall provide adequate National Defense."

Between the world wars, through the Cold War, into the current era, and throughout shifting political influences, ROA has been a prominent voice in the cause of preparedness. In its early days, ROA supported the right of the Reservist, as of any other citizen, to appear before Congress in support of appropriations and matters affecting the national defense was established. The association's earliest "campaign" was for a strong corps of Reserve officers who could help the nation rebuild its Army should the need arise.

The Vision

The farsighted vision and tenacity of these WWI veterans laid the foundation for the success of the Army's massive growth to defeat tyranny in Europe and Asia. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall told one ROA leader in January 1942, weeks after Pearl Harbor, that ROA had made certain that more than 100,000 officers were available, around which the Army would build a fighting force of more than eight million.

During World War II, the association became inactive "for the duration," as its members went to war. ROA was reactivated in 1946; and in 1948, Reserve Officers of the Naval Services merged with ROA. The Marine Corps and Coast Guard came in about the same time.

When law created a separate Department of the Air Force, for the first time the nation had, in ROA, a Reserve association embracing all the services. (The Association's members had voted to admit women officers into their ranks in 1927, although at the time no women were in commissioned military service).


In 1957, warrant officers were admitted, and Noncommissioned Officers in 2013. In 2018, by an overwhelming majority of members voting in that year's national convention, membership eligibility was opened to all ranks. Truly ROA is for all Reserve Components and of all Reserve Components, the only national military group that solely and exclusively advocates for America's Reserve Force.

Formalizing ROA's role as a respected advocate for national security and readiness, Public Law 595 of the 81st Congress, second session, "An Act to Incorporate the Reserve Officers Association of the United States," granted the association's congressional charter. This act established the objective of ROA: "...to support and promote the development and execution of a military policy for the United States that will provide adequate National Security."

President Harry S. Truman, one of ROA's early members and a combat veteran of WWI who served in both the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve, signed the charter on June 30, 1950.


Since its founding, and earning its charter, ROA has effectively advocated on behalf of all members of the Reserve and National Guard. Among achievements (more fully detailed here): securing 20-year Reserve retirement, drill pay, and annual pay raises for reservists, spearheading the establishment of Reserve commands in the armed services, extending VA home loans to members of the Reserve Components, and adding billions for the procurement of RC equipment and construction.

Recent accomplishments include helping extend TRICARE to all serving Reservists and reducing TRICARE Reserve Select premiums, helping halt the premature retirement of the A-10 "Warthog," supporting the Reserve Forces Policy Board as an independent body advising the Secretary of Defense on RC Matters, enactment of the military child identified for civilian-community schools, helping reverse the Pentagon's prohibition on GI Bill transfer to dependents after 17 years of service, and equalizing RC survivor benefits with those awarded to surviving family members of active component service members, and Agent Orange service-connection of Vietnam "blue water" sailors, many of whom were reservists.

ROA's century of service to America's Reserve and National Guard and to the nation they so faithfully serve is a remarkable foundation for our Association's second century of service. History tells us that we will be needed!

Legislation and Policy Achievements (pdf)
Historical Achievements (pdf)