NAVRES Provides Flexibility and Balance, Even for its Commander

Navy News / October 17, 2019

You wouldn’t guess that the Commander of a strategic formation within the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) could serve part-time. However, that is exactly what the Commander of the Naval Reserve (NAVRES) is doing. On September 1, 2019, Commodore Michael Hopper returned to serving on a part-time, Class A basis. With regard to the change, the Commodore said, “after serving full-time for a year as the Commander of the Naval Reserve, I am continuing to serve in that role in a part-time capacity. This is an important return to the strategic leadership model of the Naval Reserve, which has a Class A Commodore leading the organization.”

One of the greatest benefits for Reservists is the ability to serve part-time, which enables them to balance their civilian careers or family responsibilities. What better person to represent this fundamental principle of reserve life than the Commander of NAVRES. This is a testament to the freedom and flexibility the Reserves provide. It works well for officers, non-commissioned members, as well as our most senior leaders.

Commodore Hopper first joined NAVRES in 1986 as a cook. After decades of service, he was promoted to Captain(N) in 2015 and by July 2018 had assumed full-time Command of NAVRES at the rank of Commodore. Throughout his service, Commodore Hopper often served part-time at his local unit at HMCS Carleton. Now back to part-time service, the Commodore will enjoy the unique Reserve benefit of having two careers: one military and one civilian.

On the civilian side, Commodore Hopper has returned to a full-time career with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) as a Learning Support Consultant. He first joined the OCDSB in 1998 after he graduated from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelors of Education. In his current role, the Commodore will support students and faculty from kindergarten to grade 8 in as many as 18 different schools. One of his key responsibilities will be to facilitate the learning of special needs students by supporting the development and delivery of special education programs for students and teachers in the OCDSB.

Now, the Commodore again faces the same welcome challenge that many of the Reservists under his command face: balancing civilian employment with the responsibility and duty that go along with serving in the RCN. Although the Commodore is moving to part-time service, he will continue to serve as the Commander of NAVRES. He will also be supported by a capable and dedicated team, including a full-time Deputy Commander—Captain(N) Alan Offer—and many other full-time and part-time staff at NAVRES HQ and in the Naval Reserve Divisions.

Like many of us in the Canadian Armed Forces, our Commanders also have a desire to serve their families and communities the best they can. The Reserve framework has provided a means for Commodore Hopper to lead in multiple facets of his life. Now, both NAVRES and the OCDSB will benefit from the Commodore’s leadership, and that’s a great thing.