What does it feel like to retire from the same job twice in 16 years?
For Timothy Kellner, deputy force surgeon at Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command, the accomplishment is accompanied by an extreme sense of deja vu.
Kellner has held the civilian position since 2004, a responsibility he assumed after the retirement of the previous Deputy Force Surgeon: Navy Cmdr. Timothy Kellner.
After trading in his service khakis for a business suit, Kellner continued to carry out his mission from the civilian side, playing an important role in policy creation for the Navy Reserve’s health response efforts.
“Remaining on board for a lengthy duration has allowed me to use lessons-learned from past experience in the position and apply it to emerging issues,” said Kellner. “For example, providing guidance and assisting with policy creations during the H1N1 pandemic was a valuable experience that was particularly useful in crafting our response to COVID-19.”
Kellner was also able to leverage his insight, planning skills, and guidance to assist in re-establishing Navy Personnel Command in Millington, Tn., during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
In December 2020, Kellner’s retirement from CNRFC brings a close to over 40 years of unbroken continuity, experience and expertise, as the command bids farewell to both the last military service member to hold the position and the first civilian to hold the title in the 21st century.
“The civilian position provides continuity,” said Kellner. “When a new Force Surgeon comes in every two to three years, they’re not going to have the same connection to past events.”
Kellner said his continued dedication to the Navy and the Navy Reserve is due to a number of factors, perhaps none more important than the ability to continue working in a military environment.
“There is a special allure to a civilian position at CNRFC in that you still are very connected to the Navy Reserve,” said Kellner. “The camaraderie is still very prevalent, even amongst civilian staff.”
Kellner’s impending second retirement doesn’t necessarily represent a clean break from the service, however. With three sons currently serving in the Navy and a fourth in the recruiting stage, the Kellner name will continue in service to the Navy for many years to come.