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Retention managers hone skills at TEC

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - U.S. Air National Guard retention office managers attend the Advanced Retention Course at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center here August 2010. Skill enhancement courses were added to the TEC's offerings in 1982, and thousands of Airmen have attended a wide range of professional continuing education courses since.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kurt Skoglund/Released)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - U.S. Air National Guard retention office managers attend the Advanced Retention Course at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center here August 2010. Skill enhancement courses were added to the TEC's offerings in 1982, and thousands of Airmen have attended a wide range of professional continuing education courses since. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kurt Skoglund/Released)

McGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. -- A group of Air National Guard retention office managers (ROMs) got the opportunity to refresh their knowledge and hone their skills when they attended the Advanced Retention course at The I.G. Brown Air National Guard Training and Education Center here, Aug. 16-19.

ROMs play a critical role in the Air National Guard by managing the strategic retention programs that keep experienced military members in uniform.

They are key members of their organization. They work closely with all personnel, from the wing commander to the newest graduate of Basic Military Training, on force management plans, career goals, and the use of incentive and benefit programs.

"This course provides advanced skill training that keeps the retention career field up to date on changes to programs, policies, procedures, and technology," said Master Sgt. Gary L. Foster, one of two recruiting and retention instructors stationed at the Training and Education Center.

"What the students like most about the course is the opportunity for cross talk and networking," said Foster. "This is a chance to get away from the job, talk about their issues, concerns, processes and find out if maybe there is a better way to do things. The end result is they leave here with new ways to make their programs better at their respective units."

Lessons in force management help the ROMs to provide guidance to their commanders on how certain plans or decisions may ultimately affect their unit's ability to meet its mission.

Instructor training, lesson plan development, and preparing and delivering a 30-minute training session focused on a retention issue are also part of the class.

"We make the distinction between giving a briefing and offering a true training opportunity," said Foster. "At the end of the course, they have a lesson plan and training presentation already developed that they can use at their units."

Incentive programs such as cash bonuses, student loan repayment, state tuition assistance and eligibility requirements of the new G.I Bill are also covered.

"We look at the laws and policies that apply to those incentives and discuss any issues the ROMS are dealing with," said Foster. "It's real application they can get answers to and put to use right away when they get back home."

The ROMs also spend a full day in the Training and Education Center's computer lab working with both the Veterans Affairs Defense Manpower Data Center and the AFRISS Based ROMPS databases. This helps refine their skills and increase their efficiency with various incentive programs.

The course ended with a 3-hour block of time with a National Guard Bureau representative who addressed questions, issues and concerns at the national level.

Tech. Sgt. Paul F. Havran, the ROM for the 132nd Fighter Wing in Des Moines, Iowa, said the course far exceeded his expectations.

"The ability to network and crosstalk our best practices with some of the best retention office managers in the nation was a real benefit," said Havran. "We're a small community and this was a chance to renew friendships, network, and look at where our programs can go to be even better."

The Advanced Retention course is part of a series of programs offered at the Training and Education Center by the Air National Guard Recruiting and Retention function. The Basic Retention Office Manager course and the Advanced Recruiting course are also offered here.