News: RCP changes pressure soldiers to leave Army
Story by Sgt. Valerie Lopez
FORT BLISS, Texas -- Thousands of soldiers recite this very statement to reenlist into the Army, serve their country and build their careers. Yet some soldiers may no longer be eligible to recite these words.
"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; […] according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."
Thousands of soldiers recite this very statement to reenlist into the Army, serve their country and build their careers. Yet some soldiers may no longer be eligible to recite these words.
Effective June 1, changes to the Army’s Retention Control Point will affect Regular Army and Army National Guard and Reserve Components serving on active duty under title 10 programs.
“The military has been my life, and I was hoping to make it a career, but if you can’t get promoted the Army is saying, ‘get out,’” said Sgt. (promotable) James Thomas, motor transport operator, Headquarters Fort Bliss.
The RCP is the maximum time that a soldier can serve in the Army. soldiers are required to be promoted to the next rank in order to stay in the military longer.
Soldiers have options to join the Army National Guard or Reserve after separation from active service. Soldiers also have the option to re-class their military occupational specialty.
The Bonus Extension and Retraining Program has a list of MOS’s that are critically short and offers a financial bonus for selecting them.
“The purpose of RCP is to align the force to meet the Army needs,” said Sgt. Maj. Vickie M. Rivera, Fort Bliss Command Career Counselor, Fort Bliss Retention Office. The goal in the Army is to professionally develop Soldiers, Rivera said.
According to All Army Activity message released January 2011, the changes are: private thru private first class are allowed five years; specialist/corporal, eight years; specialist/corporal (promotable), 12 years; sergeant, 13 years; sergeant (promotable), 15 years; staff sergeant, 20 years.
Sergeants “promotable” like Thomas, are the most impacted by this change because they previously could stay in and retire after 20 years of service, but after June their maximum time in service can only be 15 years, said Rivera. There are exceptional cases that Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Ky., considers; it is up to the commanders to identify it based on each Soldier’s situation.
There are so many free resources, such as, the Army Community Services, career counselors, the Education Center and leaders to help soldiers and families enhance their personal and professional development, Rivera said. Soldiers can develop themselves to be promoted to the next rank and raise their score to the Army’s needs.
“My biggest issue with this is, it’s almost impossible to get promoted,” Thomas said. “There are over 1,200 people in E-5 (promotable) in my MOS, but in the last six months they have promoted one; our points are stuck at seven hundred and ninety eight.”
Soldiers in their RCP window can complete their contract of enlistment, but effective, June 1, they will not be able to reenlist according to the RCP.
Soldiers who are denied reenlistment due to RCP may be entitled to separation pay, said Rivera. During their transitions briefings with the Army Career Alumni Program, Soldiers entitled to separation pay will be identified.
The Army does not lack in compassion for us to voice our concerns, by using our command and non-commissioned officer support channels, said Rivera.
Soldiers affected by this RCP change who qualify for the National Guard or Army Reserve must sign a contract in order to receive their separation pay,” said Master Sgt. Richard Jones, Fort Bliss Reserve Component Career Counselor, Fort Bliss Retention Office.
Reenlisting is a life decision and a Family decision, Jones said. Promotable sergeants –as reserve component soldiers– can still retire at 20 years, but they will not be able to draw their retirement pension until age 60.
Soldiers with an Expiration Term of Service date of September 2012 or sooner are within the window of reenlistment and may be eligible to reenlist under the old RCP before June 1, said Rivera.
For more information on the RCP change, see your battalion career counselor; or for more info on the Army National Guard or Reserve visit a Fort Bliss Retention Counselor in building 732 or call Master Sgt. Jones at 568-4730.