Stopping The Loss
August 26, 2010
DENVER, Colo- "If you start with a lie you have to finish with a lie."
This is (the philosophy of) Sgt 1st Class Amy Y. Gholston, Army Reserve career counselor with the 13th Battalion, when she acts upon a face-to-face counseling with Soldiers as they are confronted with making a decision regarding their Army Reserve career.
On the first Saturday in August, Gholston and five other Army Reserve Career Counselors were set to meet and discuss Army Reserve career options with 134 Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) Soldiers mustering at the Veterans Affairs Eastern Colorado Health Care System.
Soldiers in the IRR were service members that have honorably completed a tour of duty. IRR soldiers don't participate in Battle Assembly or Annual Training. They do have the option to transfer into the Army Reserve. The career counselors are one of a few stations they have to visit before they are dismissed for the day. Gholston and her fellow career counselors' job is to interview all IRR Soldiers and inform them of any new benefits and incentives that might interest them to transfer into an Army Reserve unit.
Career Counselors specifically deal with retention, career development, separations and career management.
She was influenced by her dad, a retired army major, when she chose her career path and enlisted in the Army. Gholston is working on her third Active Guard Reserve (AGR) tour and has been working as a career counselor for eight months. Her departure from the world of human resources was due in part for career progression.
"This job is great. Especially since I love the Army, it's easier for me to talk about it," said Gholston.
Sgt. Roger Chang from Aurora, Colo., is a cavalry scout on active duty. He was in the Army Reserve for awhile and didn't like how his unit was structured, so he decided to transfer into the IRR. Chang mentioned it's hard going from Active Duty to the Army Reserve.
"It's a hard transition from Soldier to civilian but not from civilian to soldier," said Chang.
GhoIston greets Chang and all her customers she'll meet today in the same professional manner. She extends her hand to shake and says "First off, how are you doing' I'm Sgt 1st Class GhoIston."
"Are you interested in the Army Reserve'" she asks Chang.
"Maybe," he responds.
Gholston says lying just harms other people and ruins your integrity. "I don't have time for that (lying). It's either yes or no. If yes, we'll do some research (to see if Soldier is eligible to transfer) and if not that's okay and have a good life," she says.
With all her customers, GhoIston goes over the hot military occupational specialties that currently offer bonuses and are in the Colo. area. Also, she goes in to the incentives of transferring into a reserve position.
"It's pretty much broken down. Stability, that is one because a lot of these Soldiers are unemployed. If you're unemployed you can call your unit and say 'hey Christmas is coming up' or 'it's my kid's birthday and I need a little extra money'. The unit can put you on orders if they have funding."
Gholston said the inexpensive medical health coverage is a huge incentive. Army Reserve Soldiers pay less money for health insurance if they are in the Army Reserve compared to a civilian employer. Gholston said she had a Soldier that was looking to reenlist. If he stayed in the Reserve with Tricare Reserve Select he'd pay $190 dollars for his family. If he went with another insurance company he's looking at paying about $390 dollars.
"It's a lot of information to take in the morning. She's (Gholston) very knowledgeable with her job," said Chang when he was leaving the muster.
At the end of the muster, Gholston had met with 21 IRR Soldiers. Later during the week, she reconnected with some of the undecided Soldiers. Five said they'd agree to transfer into the Army Reserve and Chang was one of them.