Osan career counselors go the extra mile

by Capt. Jonathon Daniell
U.S. Army

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea - Twenty 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade Soldiers across the Korean Peninsula signed reenlistment contracts December 2017 - February 2018 to cash in on lucrative Army bonuses.

The Army's military personnel message 17-331, which expired Feb. 1, 2018, outlined the monetary incentives for reenlistment based on military occupational specialty and paygrade.

"We knew a lot of Soldiers were considering reenlisting, but many were on the fence," said Sgt. 1st Class Peggy A. Smith, senior career counselor for 35th ADA Brigade. "With the MILPER message about to expire, we personally talked to every Soldier within their reenlistment window so they could make an informed decision about their future."

Smith, and the career counselors for the subordinate battalions, Staff Sgt. Alan I. Sandoval, assigned to 2-1 ADA Battalion and Staff Sgt. Derrick C. Davis, assigned to 6-52 ADA Battalion, methodically contacted each Soldier to discuss their options.

During the final two weeks of the military personnel message remaining valid, Sandoval made a final push to call each Soldier and explain the financial benefits of reenlisting before the expiration date and the uncertainty of what waiting could mean.

Staff Sgt. Michael A. Wilmot, a Patriot noncommissioned officer for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense Battery on peninsula, listened carefully and signed his contract graciously, inking one of the Army's generous bonuses.

According to Sandoval, Wilmot paid off all his personal debt and stashed the rest away in savings.

Similarly, Davis worked well into the night as the MILPER deadline loomed to ensure each Soldier was well-informed about their options.

"One of the best parts of my jobs is when I'm able to get Soldiers what they want," said Davis. "This was one of those times. The Army was paying out large bonuses and many wanted to reenlist. It was a win-win. Soldiers stay in uniform and they get compensated for their commitment."

Staff Sgt. Muhammad Khan, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 6-52 ADA Battalion medical aid station, also benefited from the Army's retention efforts.

"This bonus allowed my family to pay off our debt and give us a fresh start," said Khan. "I'm grateful that I have a job that I love and get to work with truly amazing people. So the bonus was the icing on the cake!"

In total, the 20 Soldiers who reenlisted between December 2017 - February 2018, signed bonuses totaling more than half a million dollars ranging from $8,200 - $53,100. The overwhelming success resulted in the brigade far exceeding their Eighth Army retention mission.

According to U.S. Army releases, ballistic missile defense is one of the service's top priorities for modernization, coupled with plans to grow end strength throughout the year, gives credence for incentivizing Soldiers to remain in Army greens in 2018 and beyond.

Photo Caption:

Master Sgt. Peggy A. Smith, center, senior career counselor for 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, with Staff Sgt. Alan I. Sandoval, left, career counselor for 2-1 ADA Battalion and Staff Sgt. Derrick C. Davis, right, career counselor for 6-52 ADA Battalion, stand for a group photo at the 35th ADA Brigade Headquarters March 20, 2018, at Osan Air Base, South Korea.The trio helped 20 35th ADA Brigade Soldiers sign reenlistment contracts totaling more than half a million dollars over a three month period, December 2017 - February 2018, to keep Soldiers in Army greens and help many erase personal debt.

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