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The Army sets retention goals for its organizations each year, and this year the Space and Missile Defense Command not only met, but exceeded its designated goal.

Master Sgt. Jose Cruz, retention officer, SMDC, said the command was able to exceed their retention goal this fiscal year through teamwork and open communication with Soldiers.

“Our over production on retention can be contributed to the leaders we have on our team who took the time to communicate with their Soldiers who were in their reenlistment opportunity window,” Cruz said. “It was a collaborative effort with all parties.”

Cruz’s team exceeded SMDC’s goals, meeting 107% of the goal for fiscal year 2020 expiration term of service cohort Soldiers reenlistment, and achieving 102% of the goal for fiscal year 2021 ETS cohort Soldiers. On Sept. 30, they will determine the final outcome.

Cruz said retention is important to SMDC and the Army because it directly impacts enlisted readiness and Army end strength.

“Without enlisted Soldiers, the Army won’t have a force to manage or carry out officers’ intent,” Cruz said. “Enlisted Soldiers are the backbone of the Army. By retaining quality Soldiers in our formation, it will ensure our establishment has the Soldiers needed to fight our future wars, resulting in a balanced and stable force in order to deploy, engage and destroy the enemy.”

Cruz also said retention can provide continuity for SMDC, guaranteeing the command will have future leaders to train and mentor the next generation of SMDC Soldiers.

When it comes to retention, Cruz puts himself in the Soldiers’ shoes and speaks honestly with them.

“As a senior leader, I’ve never forgotten where I came from and the challenges I faced as I climbed the enlisted ranks,” Cruz said. “When I speak to Soldiers, I have to earn their respect and confidence. You have to treat every Soldier how you want to be treated and be the straight shooter with them.”

Cruz said retention is all about talking to Soldiers and learning about their personal goals. He said he speaks the truth and writes contracts based on each Soldier’s personal goals and their preference of their reenlistment options.

After 16 years as a career counselor, Cruz said he learned to work hard to earn the respect of the Soldiers with whom he works.

“My rank doesn’t define me, but my actions do,” Cruz said. “I strive for Soldiers to respect me as a person and not just because of my title. That respect, trust and confidence has to be earned every single time, through communication and treating others the way you want to be treated.”

Cruz said retention is above all a team effort, often starting with a squad leader, section sergeant, platoon sergeant or first sergeant.

“The noncommissioned officers and officers in our formation have done an outstanding job retaining our Soldiers through mentorships and counseling,” he said. “Retention is never a one-man show, it is a team effort.”

Now that the retention goal has been met, Cruz said it is time hit the ground running to accomplish the next mission: next year’s retention mission.

“Exceeding the mission for SMDC means we have met and exceeded what the headquarters of the Department of the Army had assigned to this command,” Cruz said. “Mission complete. Now it is time to prepare for our new retention mission that starts Oct. 1, 2020.”

Cruz said exceeding the retention goal displays that SMDC has a winning attitude.

“We’ve recognized and proven that future retention missions issued by HQDA can be accomplished as a collective unit,” he said. “If it can be done once, it can be done again.”

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