The Army wants to keep well-trained, disciplined Soldiers to lead its next generation of recruits, and today’s specialists are the drill sergeants and noncommissioned officers of tomorrow.
Career counselors serving in the 1st Theater Sustainment Command are here to facilitate the process and help Soldiers explore all available programs and options for reenlistment.
“We are here to ensure the Army’s forces are strong through the retention of America’s sons and daughters,” Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Mauney, senior career counselor, 1st TSC, said.
Mauney and his team are the subject matter experts on all aspects of retention and provide career counseling for Soldiers. When a Soldier is in that window for reenlistment or extension, Mauney will ask what his or her plan is after completing their term. What’s next?
“If they say, ‘I’m just getting out of the Army,’ then we’re going to have a much longer conversation,” Mauney said.
Mauney doesn’t try to “twist anyone’s arm” into reenlisting. It’s more about helping the Soldier understand what he needs in a job in the civilian sector compared to what he now earns with added benefits.
“It’s in our job title,” Mauney said. “We counsel Soldiers.”
“It starts from the day a service member enters the Army and continues throughout their career,” he added. Reenlistment programs change, which requires career counselors to stay informed to provide accurate information about opportunities currently available to Soldiers.
At the beginning of the fiscal year 2021, two re-enlistment programs changed to help service members.
The Reenlistment Opportunity Window changed from 15 months to 12 and the whisky extension was extended from 12 to 18 months.
First Team career counselors pay special attention to a Soldier’s potential for future service and his or her qualifications. Then the Soldier is advised on all available career options.
Options may include military occupational specialty reclassification, a Continental United States station of choice, an Outside Continental United States station of choice, stabilization, special programs, bonuses, and other potential career advancing programs such as the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Green to Gold programs, warrant officer programs, and the Funded Legal Education program.
The most popular regular reenlistment program is a CONUS station of choice. Mauney said that Soldiers like being able to pick a duty station closer to their family and to be able to travel.
Some programs which require a Soldier to apply have specific reenlistment requirements. If accepted, the Soldier provides an acceptance memo stating service requirements when re-enlisting.
“As career counselors, we match the needs of the Soldier, their family, and the needs of the Army by facilitating career development and growth within the Army’s support systems and unique mission requirements,” Mauney explained.
Mauney believes that the Army’s slogan of “People First, Winning Matters,” is a career counselor’s motivation.
“I have found great satisfaction helping Soldiers and their families make the best decisions to further their careers within the active or reserve components of the Army,” he added.
Mauney knows the importance of keeping a well-trained Soldier. It cost a lot of money to train a Soldier from Basic Combat Training through their Advanced Individual Training.
“If a Soldier leaves the Army, we have to start all over again,” Mauney said. While the Army always needs new recruits, reenlisting Soldiers ensures that highly-trained noncommissioned officers head to a new duty station.
Sgt. Joseph Valdez is the newest career counselor on the team. He changed his MOS from dental technician to career counselor, and graduated from the course in September here at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
“I wanted to do this job to help Soldiers re-enlist for another MOS so that they can enjoy the rest of their career with the Army,” he said.
Another member of the retention team is Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Fredrick He is deploying to serve as the primary career counselor supporting Task Force Sinai.
The number one message from the noncommissioned career counselors is to not wait. “Know what you want to do before your ROW,” Mauney said. “Have a plan.”
Valdez explained that the sooner you act inside your ROW, the more options you’ll have for a duty station of choice, or to complete requirements for a program for which you must apply.
Mauney agrees with what the U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville said about people first, “If we take care of our people, get them in the right jobs at the right time and the right place, they will deliver on our Army priorities of readiness, modernization, and reform.”
Mauney encourages Soldiers who are approaching or inside their ROW to talk to one of the career counselors in 1st TSC.
“We owe a lot of credit to leaders here at First Team,” he said. “They’ve done a great job teaching, coaching, and mentoring, and that has set the stage for Soldiers to continue serving.”