Retention, Retention, Retention! Know your benefits when making career decision Published Feb. 14, 2008 By Tech. Sgt. Jake Chappelle 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash., -- If you're thinking about separating from the Reserve, make sure you've done your research before making your move. Consider this number: 96.9 percent. This is the retention percentage for the 446th Airlift Wing from the last quarter. In other words, the 446th AW kept 1,893 enlisted Reservists out of the 1,954 assigned. Not to bad, by most standards. But where did the other 61 Airmen go? What factors made them decide to leave? Is it the civilian employer who doesn't quite understand how the Reserve works? Is it that the family requires more of the Airman's time? How does mentoring and communication between leadership and subordinates affect career decisions? According to the latest retention rates, the answers to those questions are common reasons why Reservists separate. But the 446th AW has solutions to those issues for Reservists who are thinking about separating or reenlisting. According to Col. Jon Huguley, 446th Maintenance Group commander, leadership and mentoring are crucial elements in the decision to stay or go. "It helps subordinates feel you care about them and their career progression," he said. The 446th AW Maintenance Group holds a mentoring class once a quarter. The class provides the basic reasons why you mentor and why it is important. The class gives students an opportunity to role play mentoring skills. "I also encourage the one and two-stripers to attend so they know what is expected of them and to be mentored," said Colonel Huguley. "It gives them a first look on what to expect when they become supervisors." Supervisors receive great benefits as well. "It shows supervisors how to formally document their mentoring with their subordinate's goals and expectations," said Colonel Huguley. Communication between leadership and subordinates is important. "It helps leadership know that subordinates are aware of what is expected of them, and it keeps everyone on the same page and helps accomplish the mission," said Colonel Huguley. "When everyone knows what their goals are, it makes the mission go smoother. People are the most important component in the mission." Communication is also important between Reservists and their civilian employers. A program that's helpful in clear communication between Airmen and civilian bosses is the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. ESGR helps employers understand how crucial the National Guard and Reserve are in today's military. The ESGR has programs that will help employers understand their rights and responsibilities, as it also does for Airmen. All this information is available at the Web site www.esgr.mil. Employer knowledge of this resource could potentially prolong a Reservist's career. For more information on ESGR, contact 446th AW Public Affairs at (253) 982-3330. A Reservist's family also might not understand what is required of their Airman and maintaining a healthy relationship is not easy. The 446th Mission Support Squadron Airmen & Family Readiness Flight is here to help. "We have the Phoenix Spouse program," says Tech. Sgt. Wendy Beauchaine, family support technician. "Family members can relate to each other, via the volunteers who support this program. Sometimes it is more helpful to have a family member who understands what it is like to have a Reservist deployed for several months to talk to, rather than someone in our office." A&FR has many programs and services for Reservists and their families. Just a few of them are: couples communication, relational skills, educational services, referral information, bundles for babies and financial consultation and planning. A&FR also has Carl Supplee, A&FR chief, as a licensed counselor. "Besides having Mr. Supplee, we refer to agencies such as Military OneSource, which can provide free counseling services, and a wealth of useful information," said Sergeant Beauchaine. The 446th AW has many resources to meet Reservists' needs, all of which are here to aid Airmen, their careers, and their families. One hundred percent is better than 96.9 percent.