FORT CARSON, Colo. - Throughout the U.S. only one percent of the population serves in the military. In that population, Soldiers must make the decision to stay or leave the military lifestyle after a contract comes to its end.
On Jan. 21, 2020, 35 Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, confirmed their pledge to the U.S. Army during a mass re-enlistment ceremony at the William "Bill" Reed Special Events Center.
"(These Soldiers) have reaffirmed their commitment to not only the U.S. Army but also to the people of the United States, and that's a huge commitment," said Command Sgt. Maj. Paul I. Fluharty, senior enlisted leader, 2nd Bn., 77th FA Reg. "When we have an opportunity to recognize them with a ceremony, I think it's appropriate that we do so to show these Soldiers their value and how much we appreciate them."
Among the 35 Soldiers was Spc. Peter Padilla, a cannon crew member with Bravo Battery, 2nd Bn., 77th FA Reg.
"This is my first re-enlistment and well, I love being in the Army," Padilla said. "I love how you can never stop learning. I love teaching younger Soldiers, and I love the different experiences you gain from being a Soldier."
However, the decision to continue serving didn't fall solely on Padilla or the other 34 Soldiers.
"Families play a huge role; it's a collective decision whether their service member should re-enlist," explained Fluharty. "If we can make the Families happy and want them to stay around the military Family lifestyle, we add value to getting Soldiers to want to re-enlist."
For Padilla and his Family, the decision was easy.
"(Joining) the Army was something I've wanted to do since I was a child and these past two years have been nothing but amazing," said Padilla.
Passion for the military grew during those two years because of the leadership in the battalion, according to Padilla.
"It's awesome to know that there are people who care about you and that help you throughout any situation. My leaders have showed me that I have so much potential in the Army, and I want to see what I can do next," said Padilla.
Padilla said with the support of his leadership he hopes to go to the next Basic Leaders Course and eventually attend the U.S. Army's Ranger School.
Leadership involvement at all levels, according to Fluharty, is crucial to retain Soldiers in the Army and help them grow throughout their careers.
"It is by leaders at every echelon understanding the importance of retention and placing value in Soldiers," said Fluharty. "Retention is a collective organizational thing, and it's based on the culture of an organization and it feels good to know our leaders understand that."