By Staff Sgt. Nathan AkridgeOctober 9, 2014
FORT SILL, Okla. - As the Army begins to draw down, Soldiers are finding it harder and harder to re-enlist. While retention can prove difficult, there are some things each Soldier can do to make themselves more marketable to the Army.
Sgt. Maj. Patrick Hickok, the 32nd Air and Missile Defense Command Career Counselor, came to Fort Sill to inform 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade Soldiers as to how they can ensure they remain a valuable resource to the Army and let them know about some of the recent changes to the Army's retention policy.
"First of all, there has already been a change in the re-enlistment window," said Hickok. "We had an expanded window at one time when we were in the Army grow-phase but the new window requires you to re-enlist within 12 months of your ETS."
Hickok stressed that although you are eligible for re-enlistment once you are 12 months out from your ETS date, you are no longer eligible for re-enlistment once you are 90 days from your ETS. This means Soldiers truly only have nine months to make a decision on reenlistment.
"It's important to stress that Soldiers need to make that decision sooner rather than later," said Hickok. "We'd much rather Soldier's make that decision within the first 90 days. If the Soldier is qualified and willing to reenlist and they are getting something that they desire and works with the Army's needs, then there is really no reason to wait. What I've seen sometimes is options change and bonuses along with assignments go away."
There are many things a Soldier can do to make themselves more appealing to the Army and increase their chances of retention.
"The first thing to remember is that Soldiers need to be an expert in their job and display a high level of proficiency," Hickok said. "You also need to do the basic requirements of a Soldier like qualify with their weapon, pass the Army Physical Fitness Test and be in accordance with the army weight control standards. We need Soldiers to think of their time in the Army as a career, maybe not a 20-year career, but this is their career path at this point."
When asked about Soldiers who don't want to stay on active duty and want to transition in the
National Guard or Army Reserves Hickok said, "When Soldiers separate from the Army we
want to keep them as part of the Army team, we can do that in another component, whether it's
in the Army National Guard or Army Reserve."
"There are bonuses in these components, but one thing we lose sight of is the networking capability of a Soldier when they transition into the National Guard or Army Reserve.
Sgt. 1st Class Rudregus Davis, career counselor for 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery, 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade, reminds Soldiers that there are many benefits and programs available for veterans.
"A lot of Soldiers get out and have a hard time finding employment without having or making a plan," said Davis. "Right now across the United States there's a huge number of veterans that are not taking advantage of some of the job placement benefits and the employment initiatives that the government has put in place especially for veterans."