REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama – What happens to the Army’s technical experts when they retire? One retired warrant officer continues to use what he learned during his time in uniform now as a civilian at the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command.Rafael Santos, chief of military personnel, office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1, said he uses the knowledge and expertise he gained as a warrant officer to help and advise.“A lot of people say knowledge is power, and it is if you share it,” Santos said. “It’s not power if you keep it to yourself. It doesn’t do anyone any good if you don’t want to share it.”Santos did not grow up wanting to serve. He said his sister’s boyfriend was serving as an aircraft mechanic in the Vietnam War, and thought it would be good for Santos to do the same. He took Santos to the local recruiting station, but there were no positions available for aircraft mechanics. Instead, Santos was offered a job as a personnel records clerk. When Santos enlisted December 3, 1973, he had no intention of making it a long-term career.“At that time all I wanted to do was finish my two years and get out,” Santos said. “I was offered the opportunity to go to Officer Candidate School, but I chose to pass because I didn’t plan on serving longer than I had to - little did I know!”During his first assignment in Germany, Santos said he worked with a couple of warrant officers who really inspired him.“If you had a problem and you brought it to their attention, they didn’t solve it for you,” Santos said. “They told you how to solve it, but they wanted you to solve it yourself and learn from it.”Though Santos was frustrated with this at first, he said he quickly began to memorize the regulations and know where to seek out answers. Then he understood why the warrant officers made him research the answers himself, rather than giving him the solutions. For Santos, the expertise of these warrants officers inspired him to become one himself.“For the ones who are really good, there’s an aura about the warrant officer,” Santos said. “They are so knowledgeable in their field that they can find the answers to almost anything. That’s why I liked warrant officers: you’re specialized; you have a mission; and you perform that mission.”Santos was commissioned as a warrant officer in 1986 as a human resource technician, serving 15 years more before retiring in 2001. During his time as a warrant officer, Santos said he became an expert in military human resources and its regulations, but his experience also taught him that sometimes, half a problem is knowing who to ask.“I don’t know everything,” Santos said. “I’ve been in the Army for a long time though, so I know a lot of people. I might not have the answer every time, but I know who to reach out to, and if you treat people right, they’ll always be willing to help you when you give them a call.”Santos now uses what he learned as a warrant officer to help the USASMDC team.“We take care of people,” Santos said. “The health and well-being of the military, civilians and family members is always dictated by the human resources piece of what we offer. It’s our job to make sure employees can focus on their work because we’ve got their pay, promotions, military lifecycles, recognition and rewards covered.”Santos said he also continues the warrant officer practice of sharing his knowledge.“That’s the beauty of the warrant officer - we’re always willing to share our knowledge with people,” Santos said. “Warrant officers aren’t really bashful, so we’ll tell you how it is. We always try to share what we know with the intent of making things better.”Santos said another way he uses his experience is sharing ideas with USASMDC’s Command Chief Warrant Officer, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Wesley Klees.“I’m the past, and I have certain knowledge and ideas I can pass to him that he can pass to somebody else in the next generation,” Santos said. “After almost 47 years in government service, I’ve been at pretty much all the levels. I know a thing or two that I can share, and I’m not bashful about sharing it.”Klees said USASMDC has several retired warrant officers working as civilian employees and that each makes an impact on the command by bringing what they learned while in uniform and by continuing to train and advise others.“Mr. Santos is someone I view as a mentor,” Klees said. “He has developed phenomenal relationships with senior warrant officers in the Army and he is a trusted agent I can lean on in regards to talent management. When it comes to HR processes, he always has the right answers.”Santos said, for him it is about being like the warrant officers who inspired him years ago, by giving others the tools and wisdom to do their jobs successfully and learn how to find the answers.“I’m not the type of person to keep my knowledge to myself,” Santos said. “I’m not worried about keeping the things I know a secret to ensure my job security. I want to know that if I’m not around, my team knows what to do and how to find answers. If I know I’m not needed, I’m doing good because that means I taught you well.”