MSCoE team adapted to COVID-19 challenges to achieve FY20 goal
The Maneuver Support Center of Excellence retention team has earned the distinction of being the first to achieve 100 percent in all categories for retention within the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command for the 2020 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1.
Master Sgt. Zachary Chism, MSCoE career counselor, indicated that while the team typically meets their annual retention goals, being the first in TRADOC is a significant accomplishment — and one that was not achieved without support, starting with the command climate.
“Our Soldiers love it here on Fort Leonard Wood and want to stay in the Army,” Chism said. “The command teams have created a positive environment for our Soldiers, which was the main factor in completing our mission so quickly.”
Chism also noted that the efforts of two brigade-level career counselors — who had to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic as it evolved in the middle of their retention efforts — contributed greatly to meeting this year’s 100-percent benchmark.
“We have two extremely talented and motivated brigade career counselors: Staff Sgt. Ian Adams and Sgt. 1st Class Robert Christensen, who even in times of uncertainty were able to communicate with Soldiers to meet their retention needs,” Chism said.
Christensen said one of the key steps the team takes each year is pre-planning and making contact with Soldiers with upcoming expiration-term-of-service, or ETS, dates even before the fiscal year begins.
“We pull a roster of our Soldiers monthly and begin speaking with them about the future — not just about the Army,” he explained. “Many Soldiers want to go to college or attend military educational schools. They seek advice from their mentors and leadership, who will point them in our direction, and we cover the broad ranges of life choices to make.”
Prior to the emergence of COVID-19, most contacts were conducted face-to-face, Christensen said, but all that changed when stay-at-home orders were put in place in March.
“We had to change pace and utilize telephonic or email conversations,” he said. “This was done so through the use of a Battalion Retention NCO and the respective command teams from those units. Being in a TRADOC environment, many of our customer base works with each other weekly, if not daily. This allowed the networking chain to develop, spreading information and ensuring that the entire population received the most relevant information.”
Looking forward, Chism said the team will continue to replicate its success based on lessons learned and best practices conducted over the past five years.
“We focus on communication; we always try to ensure that everyone knows their options for reenlisting as soon as it becomes available,” he said. “If we can provide each Soldier with as much retention information as possible, they will be more informed and able to make a quicker decision regarding their future in the Army.”