Retention is about taking care of Soldiers and their Families. It is about knowing the value of a Soldier; what they bring to the table. It is about who will become our future leaders.
I think there is a Whitney Houston song, something along the lines of, “I believe the Soldiers are our future.” Okay, maybe it’s not exactly like that, but I do really believe that as a leader, it is your inherent responsibility to be a career counselor by mentoring and counseling Soldiers.
While the retention program is the senior leader’s program, it is also your program. And, we all have to work in a connective effort, along with the retention team, to support it. The key is to re-enlist quality Soldiers to better posture the Army and maintain readiness. In order to meet that mission, we need leaders to understand that responsibility and embrace it so they can further communicate it.
The retention program is about the Army’s end-strength. It is about how we fill the force. Retention is about the balance between accessions and separations.
The goals of the Total Army Retention Program are:
- Re-enlist Soldiers on a long-term basis
- Enlist or transfer/assign separating Soldiers into Reserve units
- Achieve and maintain Army force alignment
- Support special programs, including the United States Military Academy Prep School, ROTC and Green to Gold
As one of the best ways to support the overall Army Retention strategy, I can’t stress enough the importance of counseling Soldiers. As leaders, you need to understand how important that is. Soldiers need to have all the information available to make educated decisions. All too often, we fail to recognize Soldiers enough for their accomplishments, but counseling them correctly is one of the ways to give them positive feedback.
Do you know how much it costs the Army to replace a Soldier? Do you know the value of a Soldier’s institutional knowledge? Like everything else in this world, there is also a monetary importance to retention. Think of every Soldier who leaves the Army as a trained and experienced employee; one who can only be equally replaced with another trained and experienced employee. Unfortunately, it costs time and money to turn a civilian into the kind of trained and experienced employee the Army needs. That’s why it’s so critical to retain quality Soldiers and as leaders your help in retention ultimately saves the Army money.
If the leader is the first line effort of retaining Soldiers, then the career counselor is the second. The retention team must work diligently to ensure that Soldiers are properly coded for their re-enlistment eligibility: medical status; correct expiration of service dates; profile status and reassignment eligibility codes.
And, if after you have done everything possible to help the Soldier continue their service, they decide that staying in isn’t on the horizon, then thank them for what they have done, and ensure that they see the Reserve component career counselor. Our RCCCs do an amazing job of counseling separating Soldiers, sometimes so good that they’ve gotten Soldiers to go back and see their career counselors and re-enlist. Our RCCCs are the reason why our Reserve forces are manned with such trained and knowledgeable Soldiers.
All of our collective efforts ensure mission success, and that truly is what makes our Army strong and relevant.
Don’t forget — the Soldier is the most important component of our Army!
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