Tag Archives: Army Human Resources Command

Career program helps cut Soldier unemployment payments to 13-year low

NCO Journal report

As it turns out, former Soldier Jonathan Quinones has a “knack” for real estate — and he might have never known had he not participated in the Career Skills Program.

“Real estate has been a lucrative field so far,” said Quinones, who is now working for the St. Robert Realtor who facilitated an internship for the Career Skills Program.

The program, which officially started in March 2015, provides Soldiers the opportunity to participate in career internships while finishing up their military careers.

A pilot of the program started in 2014 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

It “was so successful, it has spread to installations around the country,” said Chevina Phillips, Education Services specialist at Truman Education Center at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

“Today there are more than 76 programs,” Phillips said. “The number of programs will increase because there are many being developed.”

Officials are committed to providing more opportunities for transitioning Soldiers to leave the service career-ready through programs such as this one and others fostered by the Soldier For Life — Transition Assistance Program.

The Army closed out Fiscal Year 2016 with the lowest amount of Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Service members (UCX) in 13 years at $172.8 million, according to the Department of Labor. Fiscal Year 2016 is the first time UCX has dipped below the $200 million mark since 2003, when it closed out at $152 million. The decrease in unemployment compensation is encouraging to transitioning Soldiers and Army Veterans looking to find employment, pursue education, or access other civilian opportunities.

Henry Mare works on an electronics test station at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Hydropower Branch's Electronics Service Section at Old Hickory Dam in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Mare recently transitioned out of the U.S. Army at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and has been working as an intern. The Corps recently selected him for a position as an electronics technician. The Army closed out Fiscal Year 2016 with the lowest amount of Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Service members in 13 years, according to the Department of Labor. (Photo courtesy of Army Human Resources Command)
Henry Mare works on an electronics test station at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Hydropower Branch’s Electronics Service Section at Old Hickory Dam in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Mare recently transitioned out of the U.S. Army at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and has been working as an intern. The Corps recently selected him for a position as an electronics technician. The Army closed out Fiscal Year 2016 with the lowest amount of Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Service members in 13 years, according to the Department of Labor. (Photo courtesy of Army Human Resources Command)

Army UCX expenditures peaked in 2011 at $515 million and have been decreasing since that time due to a combination of economic factors and Army efforts to better prepare Soldiers for the civilian sector. Integrating Soldiers back into the civilian world successfully depends on a number of determinants, including civilian industry knowledge of valuable veteran skill sets, dispelling myths about veterans, as well as local economic conditions, according to the Army’s Human Resources Command. Soldiers and Army veterans must also be motivated and prepared to educate themselves on matching their career goals, skills, and location desires with the civilian sector.

“We are excited to see that more Army Veterans are finding careers after they transition off of active duty service and fewer are having to file for unemployment compensation,” said retired Col. Walter Herd, Director of the SFL-TAP, which is based at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

In the past few years, the Army has placed substantial efforts in assisting Soldiers with developing civilian career skills during their transition through a remodeled Army transition program. SFL-TAP is required to be completed by all Soldiers with at least 180 days of continuous active duty service.

The program teaches Soldiers career skills such as resume writing, financial planning, benefits education, job application preparation, military skills translation, and more, which has resulted in Soldiers becoming more prepared for civilian life.

“SFL-TAP works to provide opportunities to Soldiers who are looking to pursue an education, entrepreneurship, or a career,” Herd said. “We provide Soldiers a wide variety of resources, counseling, classes, and skills programs to better prepare and connect them to the civilian sector.”

The Army has partnered with the Department of Labor, Department of Veterans Affairs, Small Business Administration, and various Veteran Service Organizations to offer courses to transitioning Soldiers. The Army also works with major employers across the country to educate companies on the value of hiring veterans and to connect Soldiers to civilian opportunities.

Phillips said Fort Leonard Wood’s program began through the SFL-TAP and is now administered through the education center.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for all transitioning service members to participate in,” Phillips said. “(It) is very beneficial to the service member not just because of the employment opportunity, but it allows service members to explore career areas they are interested in where they normally wouldn’t have access.”

David Holbrook, owner of the St. Robert realty company that provided Quinones’ internship, said the program has provided him with two quality employees.

“I think it’s a great program,” Holbrook said. “When I retired from the military, it’s something that wasn’t available for me. It prepares (service members) for life after the military. It’s like going back to college while still on active duty. It’s worked out great for me” as an employer.

Internship providers work with the education center to provide interns with a course of study and benchmarks to meet while taking part in the program. Soldiers who do the internships in real estate, and successfully complete the program, leave the Army as licensed real estate agents.

Fort Leonard Wood has six approved programs: two real estate programs, programs with the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Geospatial Technical Operations Center, a local investment group and Bunker Labs, Phillips said.

“We are constantly looking for new programs to start and are currently working on four others,” she added.

Timothy Willingham retired from the Army as a sergeant first class. He finished out his career as an intern with the U.S. Geological Survey in Rolla, Missouri.

“I initially was supposed to do a month in different sections of USGS. It turned out I only ended up working in one section because they needed help — the elevation unit,” Willingham said.

After his internship, Willingham went to work for USGS doing quality control.

The Career Skills Program “is a great benefit, and Soldiers should take advantage if they can,” Willingham said.

Quinones said the design of the program helped accelerate the learning curve for becoming a real estate agent.

He said it gave him a path of instruction to follow.

“This program eased my anxiety of not having enough money when I retired from the Army,” he said.

Jeffery Isom became the installation administrator for the Career Skills Program in October. Isom, a retired Soldier, said he has a passion for the program and seeing the impact it can have on the lives of transitioning Soldiers — especially those planning on remaining in Missouri.

“I believe this program affords the transitioning service members the opportunity to gain civilian experience that will increase their chances of obtaining suitable employment,” Isom said.

In the coming months, he hopes to see the program marketed on a larger scale while partnering with more area organizations to create internships, apprenticeships and job-shadowing opportunities.

“This will benefit both the transitioning service members and their families and also the remaining active-duty service members who are deserving of the best equipment and training available,” he said. “All transitioning service members are entitled to outstanding transition services.”


Podcast Episode 3

NCO Journal Podcast Episode 3

Podcast Logo

Command Sgt. Maj. Wardell Jefferson, CSM of Human Resources Command, and NCO Journal staff writer and editor Martha Koester discuss the HRC road show.

With new report, senior raters may identify just 24 percent ‘most qualified’

Army News Service

The new policy for the noncommissioned officer evaluation report, or NCOER, due out in January, includes a limit on how many “most qualified” ratings can be handed out by a Soldier’s senior rater.

Under the new system, a senior rater may rate only as many as 24 percent as being most qualified. That limit applies when those being rated are in the rank of staff sergeant through sergeant major. The expectation will be to make the rating of “highly qualified” as the “new norm,” said Sgt. Maj. Stephen McDermid, the evaluations branch sergeant major for the Adjutant General Directorate, Human Resources Command.

“It’s important to understand that the ‘highly qualified’ selection will be the norm and that noncommissioned officers [NCOs] will remain competitive for promotion with highly-qualified NCOERs, given they complete their required professional military education,” McDermid said.

The senior rater profile is new on the NCOER, and similar to what is already being done on officer evaluation reports. Army leaders hope that implementation of a senior rater profile will help reduce “rating inflation” within the enlisted evaluation system, which makes it difficult for promotion boards to select the most qualified for promotion.

“It’s hard to use [the NCOER] as a determiner of success and for potential for promotion when everybody is a 1,” said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey. “That should be the number-one thing we are using to decide promotion potential. And unfortunately, because it is so equivalent for everybody, you can’t. You have to go to other things like school reports, awards and decorations and all those other things.”

McDermid said the limit of 24 percent is designed to reflect the promotion percentages common across various military occupational specialties within the enlisted ranks. The intent is to make it easier for promotion boards to identify those Soldiers who are most qualified to be promoted.

The decision to set the limit to 24 percent was made by the sergeant major of the Army and his senior enlisted council. The recommendation was passed to both the Army’s chief of staff and Army secretary, who both agreed with the recommendation.

“It’ll give promotion boards the ability to see who actually are the best by using the NCOER as a true discriminator of talent — what it’s supposed to do,” Dailey said.

The NCOER includes a block labeled “Senior Rater Overall Potential.” That block includes check boxes where senior raters are asked to compare an NCO’s “overall potential” to that of other NCOs of the same grade that the senior NCO has rated in his or her career. For the NCO being rated, senior raters may select from: “most qualified,” “highly qualified,” “qualified,” or “not qualified.” They may choose only one of those ratings, and may rate up to 24 percent of their Soldiers as “most qualified.”

Another change to the NCOER includes the supplementary review.

Army leaders have asked for a supplementary review on NCOERs when the senior rater is a sergeant first class, first sergeant, master sergeant, warrant officer one, chief warrant officer two, second lieutenant or first lieutenant.

“This supplementary review will be performed by a uniformed Army Soldier, senior to the senior rater within the rated NCO’s organization,” McDermid said. “As designed, the supplementary reviewer will monitor evaluation practices and provide assistance and/or advice to rating officials as needed.”

Counseling required

With the implementation of the new NCOER, counseling will remain critical in reviewing the Soldier’s demonstrated performance and potential while focusing on leader development throughout the rating period.

Raters must counsel the rated Soldier initially and quarterly, while the senior rater should counsel the rated NCO twice during the rating period.

“Ideally this will occur within the first 30 days of the rating period and then at the mid-point,” McDermid said. “To account for this, senior raters will have a section on the form to annotate comments from any counseling sessions conducted with the rated NCO.”

The requirement for counseling is also expected to help curb rating inflation, Dailey said, because senior raters, who in the past have neglected to engage in counseling with an NCO for an entire rating period, have been reluctant to rate that Soldier as anything less than the best.

“That’s why they got 1 blocks in the past,” Dailey said. “[Senior raters] didn’t do their job counseling, so they just gave them a 1 block.”

Dailey said that when senior raters hold counseling with the Soldiers they senior rate, they are more comfortable providing an honest rating at the end of the year.

“If I tell you all throughout the year in counseling that you are not doing a good job, I have no problem at the end of the year telling you that you are not doing a good job,” Dailey said. “But if I haven’t done my job in telling you what you have done wrong … then we tend to shy away from that when it is performance evaluation time. ”

The new NCOER was at one point expected to hit the streets at beginning of the new fiscal year, which is Oct. 1. But Dailey asked the Army’s chief of staff and Army secretary to move the date to Jan. 1. The additional time will allow for a fine-tuning of the process and procedures for tracking senior rater profiles to ensure Soldiers have a fair chance at promotions while also preventing rating inflation.

Army Human Resources Command: Evaluations processing on hold

Via NCOguide.com

Message from Army Human Resources Command:

1 October 2013: Currently, the government shutdown is in effect. Evaluations processing will not occur during this time frame. We will process reports in order of receipt upon return.

For selection boards with established cutoff dates, for example:



18 October: RC CPT APL

We expect the cutoff dates may be amended and the boards may be rescheduled.

We highly recommend that you continue to submit evaluations in accordance with the MILPER messages to prevent any unforeseen problems.

For questions concerning evaluation policy, contact HRC Evaluations Policy at  502-613-9019 or email Evaluation Systems & Policy (HRC TAGD Eval Policy) at usarmy.knox.hrc.mbx.tagd-eval-policy@mail.mil.

View the message here →