The Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee Retention Office became the first U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command retention office to meet its fiscal year 2007 retention goals.
Master Sgt. Derrick Moodie, retention office senior career counselor, said his operation reached that goal Aug. 13.
“We’re the first installation out of 19 in TRADOC to complete mission goals in all categories, Active and Reserve Component,” he said.
TRADOC includes training installations with small Soldier populations such as the Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, Calif., where there are less than 100 Soldiers, to large ones like Fort Jackson, S.C., with about 4,000 Soldiers assigned.
Retention is the process of encouraging Soldiers to sign up for continued military service. Retention goals are based on Soldier populations. Goals are mainly categorized by length of service such as initial term, mid-career and career.
The Fort Lee office achieved more than 100 percent of its goals in each statistical category.
“It’s definitely an improvement over last year,” said Moodie, noting that Fort Lee finished second last year. “That can be attributed to Soldiers — from the team level, squad and platoon all the way to the top — talking to one another. That is the key factor in reenlistment – talking to Soldiers.”
Moodie said that essentially means the role that first-line supervisors, platoon sergeants and peers have in communicating to Soldiers the positive aspects of continued service.
“It’s basically leadership by example,” said Moodie. “It doesn’t start at the top. It’s that sergeant that’s there everyday talking to that Soldier that’s going to make that Soldier either stay or go.”
It’s also the command climate, the environment in which a Soldier lives or works. Moodie said a positive, nurturing command climate weighs heavy in Soldiers’ decision.
“The command climate here at Fort Lee is awesome,” he said. “From the (CASCOM) commanding general and command sergeant major on down, everybody has made contributions that make it an easy decision for Soldiers to reenlist.”
Ultimately, the decision to end a career or reenlist belongs to Soldiers. They must figure out what is important to them and whether their individual goals coincide with what the Army requires, said Sgt. 1st Class Armour Taylor, retention office career counselor.
“If the needs of the Soldier can meet the needs of the Army, then we all win,” he said.
That’s the underlying idea, said Moodie, but Soldiers specifically cite three main factors for reenlisting.
“The biggest thing is that they like what they’re doing,” he said, “but they also like the stability, and they like the monetary incentives.”
The latter has been a most critical factor as of late. Many Soldiers assigned to Fort Lee, namely quartermasters, are offered generous bonuses upon reenlistment. Taylor said the bonus is an enhancement for Soldiers who are most likely to reenlist anyway.
“Soldiers want to be a part of a team, something bigger than themselves,” he said. “But sometimes they need that monetary incentive to stay with the team. That’s just the icing on the tape; it helps seal the deal.”
Moodie said the incentives don’t hurt, but it’s not always the biggest factor.
“We have a lot of Soldiers who reenlist and are not getting a dime,” he said. “They just like what they do, and they figure, ‘Since I’m already here, I might as well stay until I attain 20 years.’”
Regardless of why Soldiers reenlist and all the incentives used to sweeten the deal, Taylor said it still comes down to communication.
“You’ve got to talk to Soldiers,” he said, noting he converses with roughly 40 soldiers a week. “That’s the only way to show them you care about Soldiers and you care about the Army.”
The retention office is comprised of five career counselors whose sole responsibility is to sign up Soldiers for continued service.
The operation maintains close working relationships with several battalion retention noncommissioned officers and company reenlistment NCOs who support the operation in an additional-duty capacity.