Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, attended a five-day Department of the Army Retention Training course on Fort Stewart, Georgia, February 7-11, 2022.
"The purpose of this course is to help career counselors," said Sgt. 1st Class Collins Crooms, a career counselor and instructor at the Fort Knox Kentucky Recruiting and Retention College. "It's a way to lessen the load for the career counselors because at your brigade or battalion level you may have one career counselor and up to 500 Soldiers; with only one person it's almost impossible to provide all the different needs that you should provide as a career counselor or a leader to help those Soldiers."
The Army Retention Program aims to achieve and maintain Army force alignment by reenlisting high-quality Soldiers. Mobile Retention Training teams help retention noncommissioned officers achieve this goal.
"There was a course created to establish retention NCOs (noncommissioned officers)," said Crooms. "We at the school house travel to different installations for a week at a time to train NCOs to be retention NCOs for their individual companies."
Some Soldiers taking the retention training course train to gain more knowledge to pass on to other Soldiers.
"I wanted the opportunity to persuade Soldiers to continue their service in the military," said Sgt. Marquis Hopkins, a petroleum supply specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Division Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Division Sustainment Brigade, 3rd ID. "The military offers a lot of opportunities that can benefit a lot of people and I want to assist with putting Soldiers in happy positions."
The training not only serves to train NCOs, but commanders also.
"The Department of the Army Retention training is a tool to help commanders at the company level manage their retention program and provide direction for the commanders to counsel their Soldiers looking to continue their service," said Sgt. 1st Class Stewart Walters, the 3rd DSB senior career counselor assigned to HHC, DSTB, 3rd DSB, 3rd ID.
The training also helps to serve the Division in meeting its retention goals by retaining quality Soldiers through the company-level retention program.
"Congress gave the Army a mission which is to delegate down to each individual Division and in order for this Division to obtain that goal that was given this is necessary," said Crooms. "I feel like training more retention NCOs helps the Division and ultimately helps the whole Army."
Soldiers striving to maintain their service in the Army look to career counselors and their leadership to learn the options they have.
"One thing that I have seen in the retention field is that the more leaders that are involved, not just commanders, in the Soldier's career, the more likely that Soldier is to continue their service in the Army, or are better prepared transition out of the Army to a new phase of their life," said Walters.
As a career counselor, most hope that the Soldiers they train to become retention NCOs will gave an understanding of what retention is to better lead Soldiers in the career paths.
"I'm hoping the Soldiers get a better understanding of the Army when it comes to strengths and how it works and they develop better tools that will not only guide their Soldiers better in the retention field but as a leader in themselves," said Walters. "It gives them a different viewpoint in counseling their Soldiers for their next step in their career. As NCOs that's our job to lead, mentor and guide Soldiers."
Both Walters and Crooms agree that knowledge is key for becoming a retention NCO and that by obtaining the skills from the retention training the NCOs can better lead their Soldiers.
"Hopefully, the Soldiers are gaining knowledge that the average noncommissioned officers don't know about retention," said Crooms.
"Retention sometimes isn't at the forefront in most units, but the goal is that by having a 40-hour block of instruction, it provides that extra tool that they can take back to their unit."
The newly trained retention NCOS will assist the retention personnel assigned to the brigades and division in continuing to build 3rd ID's retention successes of previous years.
"The Division is doing great," said Walters. "Last year we were the Sergeant Major of the Army retention Program winner. We were the top Division in the Army as well as U.S. Army Forces Command and XVIII Airborne Corp. This year we're still going strong and our goal is to take the SMA award again."