Army veteran leaves retirement, returns as West Point FMWR director

Story and photo by Michelle Schneider PV Photojournalist

January 16th, 2020 | In Focus, News
 Retired Army Col. Robert Schloesser, Ph.D., returns from retirement to become the West Point Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation director. He previously worked 15 years for FMWR locations in Bosnia, Kosovo, the Balkans and Germany. During his military career, he received the Bronze Medal for service in hostile conditions in Vietnam.

This is not the first-time that 84-year-old retired Army Col. Robert Schloesser has been pulled out of retirement for a job. It all starts with a phone call from someone in his international network of friends.
With over 15 years of experience working throughout Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities, he’s moved around the globe and served abroad in Bosnia, Kosovo, the Balkans and Germany. His latest job as the FMWR Director of West Point marks the 31st move for him and his wife.
“I’ve basically been a part of the Army all my life and it’s one of the reasons I wanted to come to this job,” Schloesser said. “We wanted to be back and be an integral part of the Army family and the Army team, so how can anyone be luckier than I am right now.”
Schloesser’s office is decorated with medals and awards that showcase his dedication to those he serves from a leadership position.
He was given the Bronze Medal by the President of the United States for meritorious achievement in ground operations against hostile forces August 1968-July 1969 in Vietnam.
He has also won the Superior Civilian Service Award twice for his excellence, integrity and dedication to providing FMWR services. Other major awards include the Department of the Army presenting him with the John W. Macy, Jr. Award in 2014 at the Hall of Heroes in the Pentagon and the Army Communities of Excellence Award.
Schloesser was honored as the driving force of success for FMWR facilities during a time of resource constraints. He prioritized customer service and facilitated local community relationships through implementing community activities that were profitable and boosted the resiliency of service members, their families, retirees and civilians.
While awards highlight his outstanding accomplishments as an FMWR leader, former co-workers describe him as an honest man who cares deeply about the troops and their families.
In addition to being recognized for his prolific achievements as a manager and businessman, Schloesser is also a member of the Rotary International organization and serves on the executive board for the Boy Scouts of America Transatlantic Council.
As a new addition to the West Point community, he has inherited two child care centers, a youth services center, arts and crafts, a fitness center, camp grounds, swim lakes and various other recreational and activity centers.
Schloesser has a saying: “Are we making any money?” He said that by the end of the year, they are looking for a positive net income and he is always concerned with hitting targets, exceeding budgets and finding ways to generate more profitable income. He said that the FMWR Center at West Point made over $500,000 in 2019.
“The money is used for construction projects within the FMWR family. So, for example, we have a laundry list of things that we want to do—improve our snow making capability, our watering system on the golf course, our swimming area, the list goes on and on,” Schloesser said.
He mentioned some upcoming projects around West Point to include a new equestrian center, which will free up stalls at Morgan Farm for more horseback riding. He also drew attention to the West Point Club and said it is a beehive of activity and has mother-son and father-daughter dances in the future.
Schloesser said he is very impressed with the teams he has observed during his first month here. He encourages his managers and employees to keep up the great work and strive to figure out ways they can improve a little every day, and that if everybody works with that kind of objective in sight, they will never take a step back.
“It is a real honor to have the opportunity to serve the Corps of Cadets from the perspective of our employees here,” Schloesser said. “When you think of how we send out this large group of second lieutenants across the entire U.S. Army, they represent how West Point helped them become great Army officers. So, I’m a lucky guy.”