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Reserve Retention NCOs Help Soldiers Continue Serving

By Sgt. Stephanie L. Carl, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, Jan. 31, 2005 – Active duty soldiers here who are preparing to go back to civilian life get plenty of help if they're thinking about continuing their service in the National Guard or Army Reserve.

"Meeting with our retention officers is part of the pre-separation brief," Army said Master Sgt. Scott A. Spencer, Reserve Component Retention senior operations sergeant, said.

After attending a pre-separation brief, soldiers receive an appointment letter and the opportunity to meet one on one with a retention officer. For deployed soldiers who know this is an option they want to explore, the Army Reserve Affairs office at Bagram Air Base is here to help. "We are able to help soldiers prepare their packets and get the ball rolling," said Master Sgt. Gregory Jacobs, ARA senior retention noncommissioned officer.

Although the packet can be prepared early, soldiers may not actually submit their packets until 90 days before separation from the Army.

In preparing packets, there are a few decisions soldiers must make. First, they must decide whether they want to join the National Guard or Reserves, or the Active Guard and Reserve. The majority of National Guard positions are combat arms, while the Reserves are typically combat service support, said Jacobs. Together, they make up an important part of the Army's total force.

While the military can't operate successfully without the reserve component, the reserve component couldn't operate without the AGR. "You can't run a part- time force with just part-time operations," said Jacobs.

The AGR provides an opportunity for soldiers to work full-time supporting either a National Guard or Reserve unit. Soldiers in these positions often change duty stations every three to five years, but can often transfer to other units in the same area.

One question many soldiers ask, regardless of the branch they are interested in, is whether they will lose rank when they join the reserve component, said Jacobs. "Normally, we are able to find positions that don't require a loss of rank," he said. "We also have a very high success rate in helping soldiers change job specialties when they join the National Guard or Reserves."

Soldiers can check on either of these options by knowing the geographic area they plan on moving to. Once this is determined, ARA personnel can help soldiers identify what positions are open to them. "The important thing is knowing what positions are available and meeting the requirements for those positions," said Spencer.

Regardless of the position soldiers choose, it is important to the Army, he said. "The Army couldn't successfully accomplish its mission without the reserve component," he said.

(Army Sgt. Stephanie L. Carl is assigned to the 17th Public Affairs Detachment.)

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