By Chrystal Smith (USAG Wiesbaden)November 9, 2011
WIESBADEN, Germany - Amid the rumble of the five-year planned Army drawdown of about 57,000 Soldiers, newly implemented phased reenlistment windows and changed retention control points, career counselors want to make certain Soldiers know where to go to get answers to career-impacting policy changes.
"We are here for counseling Soldiers on their options for staying in the military … or separating," said Master Sgt. Michael Traulsen, V Corps senior operations noncommissioned officer for retention.
"We always take care of Soldiers. No one ever turns a Soldier away," said Scarlet Bland, 66th Military Intelligence Brigade career counselor, speaking on behalf of her peers.
With the recent implementation of phased reenlistment, the counselors are taking proactive measures to ensure Soldiers know what it entails and who it affects. They caution that ignoring the fast approaching date of Jan. 31 could mean that some become involuntarily separated by the end of the fiscal year.
"This (fiscal) year is the first year we're doing a phased reenlistment window," said Master Sgt. Eboni Britton, 5th Signal Command senior career counselor, who said previously Soldiers could be in their reenlistment window up to two years and did not have to make a decision about reenlisting until their ETS date. "For phase one the only Soldiers eligible to reenlist are Soldiers who ETS between Oct. 1 and Sept. 30. … But you must reenlist by Jan. 31 … or you will be ineligible."
These timelines and windows are important to note "Because you get some Soldiers who wait until the last minute … They basically can't shop around anymore," said Master Sgt. Reginald Smith, USAREUR senior Reserve career counselor, who added that there are exceptions, but those that fall within 90 days of their ETS date will have to be processed up the chain with Army G1.
Because in the past most rules of eligibility and career progression were much more general, counselors recommend that Soldiers know their individual stipulations as they are now different from person to person.
"The Soldier's best bet … instead of getting secondhand information is to go straight to the career counselor, because each individual can no longer be treated the same way," said Sgt. 1st Class Ruben Berumen, 2nd Signal Brigade career counselor.
And while Soldiers can approach their unit career counselors at any time, one should not delay in visiting and with more than one plan in mind.
"The changes have come fast and furious," said Berumen.
"The longer you wait, the bigger the gamble. Be flexible and have more than one plan," said Traulsen. "We've done a 180. We went from 'chase down every single Soldier you can find and get him or her to reenlist to try and build the Army' to 'hey if you don't act now, guess what (you could be) going home."
Though the over-strength career fields will see reduction in size and selective reenlistment bonuses, counselors are pointing to career fields that offer possibilities to the Soldiers wishing to remain in the Army and are willing to change career fields.
"The Army is trying to balance it out to where they have everybody where they need them," said Bland, recommending Soldiers consider the MI career field and its associated perks such as clearance levels, bonuses and assignment locations. "We actually need Soldiers who are in the over-strength MOS to come on over to MI."
Wiesbaden Soldiers can connect with their specific unit career counselors by contacting one of the following:
Master Sgt. Reginald Smith, USAREUR senior Reserve career counselor, mil 337-5358; Sgt. Maj. Wallace Timothy, Master Sgt. Michael Traulsen or Sgt. 1st Class Alu Hall, V Corps career counselors at mil 337-2280; Master Sgt. Eboni Britton, 5th Signal Command senior career counselor at mil 337-8018; Sgt. 1st Class Ruben Berumen, 2nd Signal Brigade career counselor at mil 337-7035 or civ (0172) 246-8069; or Sgt. 1st Class Scarlet Bland or Staff Sgt. Eric Detheridge, 66th Military Intelligence Brigade career counselor, mil 337-7678.