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New retention guidelines announced as part of Army drawdown

The Army, like any organization, must react and adapt itself according to changing outside conditions. We are now entering a part of the cyclical lifespan of the U.S. military called a drawdown. What does this mean to Soldiers? Simply put, if you have committed an unforgivable sin such as: DUI, drug use, lying, cheating, or stealing you will have to work very hard to be retained.

New Army retention guidelines

The Army has laid out a series of new retention rules effective 1 March 2012. Soldiers who have a poor evaluation report on file will not be eligible to reenlist. What does poor mean? Here’s a list of all the symptoms of a poor NCOER:

  • NO entry in the values section
  • Senior Rater rating of 4 or 5
  • Relief for cause report
  • Overweight
  • APFT failure
  • AWOL 96 hours or greater
  • Failure of a service school
  • Use of drugs
  • Alcohol related incidents that resulted in some form of punishment or administrative action like an Article 15 or letter of reprimand

How can you survive the drawdown?

If you are barred to renlistement, were involved in a significant act of misconduct, or received a poor evaluation report chances are you will be facing the possibility of either denial of reenlistment or separation from service. So what can you do?

Find help

Step one: I highly recommend that you seek legal guidance from JAG. Also consider the possibility of requesting assistance from a civilian attorney who specializes in military law. These consultations tend to be rather inexpensive but the information you gain may prove priceless if it leads to saving your career.

Request an exception of policy

If you want to fight for your job, you can apply for an exception to policy for reenlistment. To do this you need to show your chain of command you have learned from the incident in question and you are a stellar Soldier. Even then you will most likely face difficulty as the goal is to reenlist only those Soldiers who have shown the ability to perform to standard throughout their enlistment without becoming involved in misconduct.

Prepare for civilian life

If you do not secure an exception of policy, you will need to come to grips with your new reality. There is a lot of work to be done before you separate out of military service. Find your separation date. If you will not be allowed to reenlist you may have one-one and half years to prepare for your ETS. This will allow you to be well prepared for transition to civilian life. JAG and your local REUP NCO can help you identify the benefits you will be entitled to according to the type of discharge you are being separated under. Read more about preparing for civilian life.

Serve your country

Remember, you must continue to be a professional Soldier. Just because you are moving away from military service does not mean that you are no longer the person you were while on active duty. If you have bumped heads with your chain of command in the past, this is the time to Soldier up and be a professional. Your chain of command can be of great assistance in helping provide a positive environment during your separation experience.

You will likely find that your chain of command has empathy for your situation and wants to do everything they can to ease your transition. Do not spoil this opportunity by being unprofessional and causing trouble. This will only hurt your cause and potentially result in a loss of further benefits.

Keep moving forward

Do not allow your separation from service to color your view of life in a negative manner. I have served with numerous individuals who simply amazed me by growing where they were planted. They made the best of the situation and achieved great things through positive attitude, willingness to learn, and hard work. Separation is not the destination, it is only a stop on the journey of life. You choose where your final destination will be… Get involved. Choose it, and work to achieve your goals.

Best of luck in your civilian endeavors. Thanks for your service to this nation.

Additional Reading

  • “New Army retention standards take effect, more to follow” [link]
  • Policy Message 12-02: “Reenlistment Options and Window” [link]
posted on 02/21/2012 under Articles, Site News
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Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training..

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