Working to keep the Army Strong, AMC's retention personnel met June 23-27 at the Army Sustainment Command headquarters to polish their skills.

"AMC hosts this training twice a year for Career Counselors and Retention NCOs throughout the command," said Sgt. Maj. Elisabeth A. Jones, AMC command career counselor. "It gives all of us a chance to come together to sharpen our skills and talk about various issues within our mission"

According to Jones, many factors have made retention even more important.

"With Army and AMC transformation and growth still on-going, the importance and interest in retention has really risen," said Jones. "If we fail to retain our highly skilled and qualified Soldiers, we cannot be an effective Army."

AMC's retention program has an inherently unique challenge with the command around the globe. In typical Army command and units, most Soldiers are concentrated at one post or station.

"We want to try to reach every Soldier face to face," said ASC Career Counselor Sgt. 1st Class Karen Zeltner. "I try to travel to as many ASC locations as possible."

Every Army Field Support Brigade has an additional-duty retention NCO assigned to them to help reach those Soldiers at the tip of the spear. Even some battalions, such as the 3-405th in Livorno, Italy, have a retention NCO assigned to help with the mission.

Maintaining skill sets is critical for the Army to succeed. However, the Army isn't focused only on preserving combat skills, but keeping its best Soldiers in uniform. Sgt. Alicia Hight, an enlisted aide to Maj. Gen. Robert Radin, commanding general, U.S. Army Sustainment Command is just one example.

Hight has worked her way up to be one of the Army's top 12 chefs. She is part of the U.S. Army Culinary team that has competed world-wide and has won many gold medals. Hight has a resume that would allow her into almost any kitchen in the world. She has been offered jobs at Godiva Chocolates and the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, but has turned them all down.

"I love being an Army chef," Hight said. "I can see so much more of the world and gain more experience by being in the Army than I can in any world-class kitchen."

Hight is just one example of Strong retention. With the fourth quarter here already, ASC is on track to meet its yearly retention.

"We are doing fairly well," said Zeltner. "Hopefully we will be able to complete our mission by the end of July."

AMC also has been very successful. In each of the past three years, AMC has received the Department of the Army Retention Award.

"We have been very successful in the past, and to continue with that trend, all leaders and members of the retention team must work hard and be engaged" said Jones. "ASC has been very successful and I directly attribute that to the supportive leadership at ASC."

The Army is also cognizant of the link between Soldier retention and family satisfaction. A 2007 study said a significant relationship and a positive, direct link between active-duty Soldiers' use of recreation and family programs and their desire to stay in the Army, their career intentions, and their satisfaction with Army life. These links also held true for programs used by the spouses of active-duty Soldiers.

"It is important for leaders and retention team members not to just look at what the needs of the Soldier are," Jones explained. "We also have to ensure that the Soldier's family needs are being met."

After a week of intensive study, AMC career counselors and retention NCOs are back on the job, helping Soldiers make good choices and keeping the Army Strong.