Councilman serves in several capacities within Ohio Military Reserve

by Laura Bednar

Captain Jim Trakas has been part of the Ohio Military Reserve for nine years, serving as a company commander, public information officer, and most recently, a public affairs officer for the Ohio State Defense Forces.

Trakas, an Independence councilman, said he wanted to serve in some capacity, as his father was a World War II veteran. When Trakas was a member of the Ohio General Assembly, he attended “Reserve Day” at the State Capitol and later decided to board (officers board, non-commissioned officers enlist) in 2013.

“It was one of the best decisions I made in my life,” Trakas said.

He went through basic entry-level training and officer candidate school in 2014 and graduated as a second lieutenant in September 2014 at Camp Perry.

“It was a thrill because my father enlisted in the Army on March 13, 1944, on the very same stage that my wife and mother pinned my 2LT bars on my uniform upon graduation,” said Trakas.

He is an officer 3rd grade captain in the 4th Civil Support and Sustainment Brigade of the Ohio Army National Guard. Trakas explained that the Ohio State Defense Forces has three volunteer services under its umbrella: the Ohio Military Reserve, Ohio Naval Militia and Cyber Reserve, which has almost 100 people protecting data institutions, like elections, and preventing hackers.

Before becoming the public affairs officer for the Ohio State Defense Forces, Trakas was a company commander in the First Battalion, where he oversaw mission-related training. He completed five missions in Ohio over a two-year span during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My unit is trained for state emergencies and does not train with weapons, nor can we be deployed outside of the state of Ohio,” said Trakas.

Some missions included working at food distribution centers, ensuring organization at vaccination centers and clearing 300,000 false unemployment claims in three months for the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.

Because the virus left many people sick and unable to work, Trakas’s unit filled in for prison guards for six months and, along with the Ohio National Guard, filled in for nurses in 30 nursing homes over a year.

Trakas said Reserve members trained for three days before working as prison guards, nurses and claims managers. “In the military, you are given a mission and you try to achieve it,” he said.

In March, Trakas became a public affairs officer. He was previously the public information officer for the Ohio Military Reserve. His job is to create awareness for the 4th Civil Support and Sustainment Brigade and Ohio Naval Militia, assist in recruiting soldiers into the Reserves, promote the organization to the general public and coordinate messaging with local media.

He is eligible to become a major, with evaluations generally taking place in October. To be eligible for major, Trakas said he must have been a captain for four years, meet physical training requirements, keep up with military education and have regular training attendance. He must also go through a performance interview and an evaluation.

Trakas is commanding a new organization within the reserves that works with drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles. The drones are non-lethal and used for reconnaissance as well as search and rescue operations.

He said the mission of the Reserves is to take on civilian tasks when the Army is called to battle.

“The military teaches how to critically think and plan,” said Trakas. “Everyone has the opportunity to succeed.” ∞

Photo: Capt. Jim Trakas has been part of the Ohio Military Reserve for nine years. Photo courtesy of Jim Trakas.