Today, I want to give you some insight about Army ETS Awards. I served in the Army for a while, and one of the things that bothered me most was when a Soldier ETS’d from the Army and they didn’t get anything from the unit. This really bothers me.
I’ve also met lots of leaders who resent Soldiers for leaving the Army. I’ve never understood this. If you have a stellar Soldier (or an average Soldier) that decides to ETS from the Army, don’t blackball them or make them feel bad for their decision. Instead, let them know that you APPRECIATE everything they have contributed to the Army and that the door is always OPEN if they ever change their mind and want to come back in the Army. This one “mindset” alone can have a significant impact on morale and retention.
I’d also like to share some of my thoughts on Army ETS Awards. I hope you read this with an open mind.
Idea # 1: Awards Should Be Tied to Contributions, Not Rank
I’ve always believed that the Soldier’s contributions should determine the award they get. I don’t believe that awards should be tied to having a certain rank. In other words, I’ve know some Specialists who should have got a Meritorious Service Medal for their service and I’ve met some senior NCOs that shouldn’t have gotten more than a Certificate of Appreciation for their service. Just because you wear a certain rank shouldn’t make you ineligible for an award you deserve. As a leader, you should make sure you submit your Soldier for an award they DESERVE based upon their contributions. Of course, you can’t control whether or not your boss will approve the award, but you can at least do your part and put the Soldier in for the award you think they deserve.
Idea # 2: Everyone Should Get an Award
Some people might disagree with me, but I believe that everyone should get an ETS Award of some type. Even if they can’t get a medal because they are flagged or ineligible, you can still do something special for them. Or, if they don’t deserve a medal, you can do a Certificate of Appreciation, a unit coin, or Commander’s Certificate. But never let anyone leave your unit without some type of award in their hand.
Idea # 3: Go Above and Beyond
If you have a great Soldier, you obviously want to put them in for a formal ETS Awards, such as an Army Commendation Medal or Army Achievement Medal. But, you should also give them something personalized from the people they served with. This could be a shadow box, a picture of the section with everyone’s signatures, a plaque, a meal out with the entire section, or a signed unit t-shirt. Give your Soldier something they will cherish forever. Personally, I’ve always cherished the personal gifts I received during my career much more than any medal that was pinned on my chest. And I’m sure many other Soldiers feel the same way.
Thanks for reading my thoughts on Army ETS Awards. Here’s the bottom line. Do your job as a leader and make sure your Soldiers get some type of award when they ETS from the Army. Show them that you appreciate their efforts by giving them a medal (if they are eligible or deserving) and also give them a personalized gift to remember the people they served with. This will have a huge impact on morale and retention.
What are your thoughts? If you have comments or questions, just post them below. Thank you.