When your team is No. 1, it's a constant challenge to stay at the top. As a member of one of the top career counseling and retention teams in the Army, connecting with 40 soldiers every week is the ultimate goal. In order to be effective at retaining top quality personnel, it's important to talk to as many soldiers as possible.
"I want to set a goal for my team that we're always striving to hit," said Master Sgt. Shantel Moneke Johnson, senior career counselor for 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. "This means you have to lay hands on a lot more people because you can't touch five and be guaranteed to get five (reenlistments), so you might need to touch 25!"
As long as you're always reaching out and contacting soldiers and their families, they're going to remember you, Johnson adds.
Due to the hard work and dedication of Johnson, her team and the brigade leadership, the Devils are always in the running for number one in retention within the Big Red One. In turn, the BRO is number one across the entire Army!
"Within this brigade, the retention NCOs are very proactive when it comes to retention," said 1st Sgt. Jarrod Mendum of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. "They go out and actually engage with the soldiers that are coming up for reenlistment and do a very good job of reaching everyone and talking to them about what their options are."
The retention of qualified soldiers is an essential part in preserving overall unit morale and readiness. It also helps to avoid the constant need for retraining basic skills to new soldiers.
Retention helps the command team gauge the "temperature" of the unit, thus allowing them to see just how well or poorly the organization is doing, said Johnson. When soldiers are reenlisting for option two, which is stabilization, that means the soldier wants to stay right where they are because they like the unit and what's going on.
Johnson confirms with certainty that her team of career counselors and retention NCOs are one of the top reasons, along with the unit leadership, that the Devils are consistently number one in retention. They take the the morale and well-being of the soldiers and their families very seriously and provide the best service possible.
"We (as a brigade) have a team that is passionate about their job and willing to help soldiers," said Staff Sgt. Camiracle Earls, Victim Advocate for HHC, 1st ABCT, 1ID. "This is the first brigade that I've seen career counselors and retention NCOs work and communicate together and really 'get after it' to help soldiers get the needs that they want."
One thing every Army leader will tell you, is that a successful retention program takes teamwork. This all starts with the leadership provided by the NCO Corps, as well as the Officers in each and every unit, who are out there mentoring and caring for soldiers.
"Retention is not an individual effort but an effort across an organization," concludes Mendum.