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Retaining Quality Soldiers To Sustain The Army
by U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Selvage - July 12, 2014

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BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – The 10th Sustainment Brigade was the first brigade throughout the 10th Mountain Division last year to make their retention mission. This year, they remain as one of the top retention teams in large part due to Staff Sgt. Rogerio Brito, a Deer Park, Washington native.

Brito, the brigade's senior career counselor who is responsible for more than 2,900 Soldiers' careers here while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, believes that it's his sole mission to concentrate on the Soldier and their family.

U.S. Army Sgt. Danny Kintchen, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native, an information technology specialist assigned to the 10th Sustainment Brigade, re-enlists for a four year assignment at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii on June 21, 2014 at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Selvage)
U.S. Army Sgt. Danny Kintchen, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native, an information technology specialist assigned to the 10th Sustainment Brigade, re-enlists for a four year assignment at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii on June 21, 2014 at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Selvage)


U..S. Army career counselors are the subject matter experts on all facets of Army life to include reenlistment and reclassification.

According to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the Army is in the process of reducing the number of Soldiers within the ranks to as low as 440,000 while ensuring the force remains well trained and equipped.

The Army is looking to keep the best qualified Soldiers and one way this will be achieved is through the unit career counselors.

As Soldiers' estimated time of separation date nears, they make the decision to transition out of the Army or continue to serve. This is where the career counselor comes into play.

There are Soldiers who love their job in the Army and have no issues when it comes to re-enlisting, but then there are those Soldiers who may strongly dislike their job and need help finding a new career field.

“It's my job to help [those Soldiers] find a job that deals with their interests, hobbies and other things they are good at,” said Brito. “It's a win-win for the Army and the Soldier. When the Soldier is happier with their new job, the Army gets a more productive Soldier.”

Since fiscal year 2013, making mission has not been a problem for the 10th SBDE career counselors.

“We focus on taking care of the Soldier,” said Brito. “For the most part, that helped us become the top producers in the division.”

The mission is a set number of Soldiers the Army requires units to re-enlist each year. This is one reason the reenlistment bonuses may fluctuate or even disappear throughout the year.

Like most professions, there are difficulties career counselors may run into.

“The drawdown and the Army wanting to lower their numbers makes my mission harder,” said Brito.

Getting numbers down isn't the complicated part, said Brito. The movement of a Soldier from one career field to another is the difficult part.

An issue career counselors may come across is the lack of military occupation specialties Soldiers may be qualified for. Some MOSs may require higher Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery scores than Soldiers possess.

The ASVAB is a test recruits are required to take, to evaluate their capabilities, prior to serving in the armed forces.

Soldiers may improve their ASVAB line scores through classes like the basic skills education program which is part of the functional academic skills training program. There is also an online class available, the Peterson online course, which can be found at Army Knowledge Online.

Brito said, sometimes it's just a matter of trying to convince the Soldier to consider other career fields to help them progress in their military career.

Another issue career counselors may have to deal with is a Soldier's retention control point.

RCP is a time limit Soldiers are authorized to remain a rank. If Soldiers are unable to get promoted to the next rank and have reached their RCP, they are not allowed to re-enlist but must fulfill their current contractual obligation before transitioning out of the Army.

Brito said, if Soldiers are reduced to a lower rank they may be over the time allotted for that rank and this affects the career counselor's mission.

Advising Soldiers on their options and providing guidance on career progression is what the career counselors are there for.

Being deployed has only created more obstacles for the unit career counselors to overcome compared to supporting Soldiers back in the U.S.

“The lack of communication the Soldiers have with their families can really slow down the process,” said Sgt. Nick Bozzi, a Philadelphia native, 10th Special Troops Battalion retention NCO. “Making a decision as big as relocating a Family may not be something most Soldiers want to make without talking about it with their loved ones.”

The brigade career counselor makes it a habit of maintaining calling cards for Soldiers to call their families on the spot when time is of the essence.

Brito said, he works on building a relationship with Soldiers, to always be there for them and will do whatever he can to help them out.

“They are easy going,” said Jasmyn Jackson, a Columbus, Georgia, native, human resources NCO and recent re-enlistee assigned to the 10th SBDE. “I could go in there any time and they would be able to help me out.”

Career counselors try to make each Soldiers re-enlistment ceremony as memorable as possible.

“It doesn't always have to happen in the office but anywhere a Soldier wants to do it,” said Bozzi. “Sometimes Soldiers just want a ceremony with their friends and coworkers while others want to be standing in a helicopter.”

Soldiers have choices and the career counselors are charged with assisting Soldier by counseling them on the opportunities, but at the end of the day, providing the Army with the best qualified
Soldiers is their main focus.

By U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Selvage
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2014

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