An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News | July 10, 2024

Michigan Army National Guard’s "First Formation" Streamlines Soldier Integration and Readiness

By Sgt. Sierra Reuther

Three key issues drove the establishment of FF. First, Advanced Individual Training graduates were reporting to their units as Medical Readiness Classification 4, necessitating urgent medical attention to render them fit for duty. Second, the distribution of Organizational Clothing and Individual Equipment to new soldiers often took 2-4 months, hindering their ability to participate in unit training. Third, updating administrative data was a challenge, as full-time staff lacked the availability on weekends to assist each new soldiers sometimes.

To address these challenges, the Michigan Army National Guard proposed conducting a First Formation one Friday a month. This initiative ensures that new soldiers receive a comprehensive welcome and are fully prepared to integrate into their units. The state-level staff, with assistance from Major Subordinate Commands and Battalion staff, are there to help focus on these areas to improve unit readiness.

One of the primary benefits of conducting monthly FFs is the improvement of medical readiness. AIT graduates turn to MRC 4 upon returning to their units. By conducting these formations, units alleviate the need to schedule separate Physical Health Assessment events, providing them with medically qualified soldiers from day one.

Another significant benefit of FFs is the timely issuance of OCIE gear. Soldiers arrive at their units with all assigned gear, ready for field training on their first drill. Additionally, RSP representatives process AIT Graduate properly and identify any pay or medical issues.

While on-site, MSC Personnel support conducts personal record reviews, updating essential documents and ensuring soldiers have access to their pay through a Department of Defense payroll website called MyPay. This process includes updating life insurance forms, housing allowance, and other important documents a soldier needs to be well prepared on the home front, as well as processing bonuses and identifying potential issues.

First Formations also provide new soldiers with valuable briefings on numerous benefits and programs. Family Programs representatives offer insights into Tricare and assist with enrollment, while education benefits and Thrift Savings Plan contributions are also covered.

Additionally, G2 military intelligence representatives review soldiers' security clearance requirements, and G3 operations representatives assist with creating DTS accounts and enrolling prior service soldiers in necessary training.

During each FF, Medical Detachment ensures that all attending soldiers complete their PHA, while USPFO issues CIF gear, ensuring soldiers are fully equipped from day one. MSC S1 teams conduct thorough records reviews to update administrative data, ensuring that soldiers have access to their MyPay accounts and updated documents such as the DD 93, SGLI, and DA 5960.

The FF also includes a patching ceremony, officially welcoming new soldiers from the RSP into their new unit’s leadership. Additionally, several support tables are available to address various Soldier needs such as:
• Education and Incentives: representatives discuss education benefits and expedite bonus payments.
• Officer Strength Management: Provides information on the benefits and process of becoming an officer.
• Family Programs: Educates Soldiers on resources like TriCare and financial advisory services.
• Job Opportunities: Connects Soldiers with potential employers, including Funeral Honors, Michigan State Police, and Veterans Affairs.

By including prior service gains from soldiers who have previously served, interstate transfers, and soldiers transitioning from active duty, the FF ensures a positive first impression of the Michigan National Guard. Units report receiving better-prepared soldiers, ready for immediate training and duties. This initiative not only improves readiness but also supports retention efforts, highlighting sponsorship as a key step in retaining soldiers.

The First Formation initiative is a significant step forward in improving soldier readiness and integration within the Michigan Army National Guard. Its comprehensive approach addresses critical challenges, ensures soldiers are well-prepared, and enhances their overall experience from the very beginning. The feedback from units has been extremely positive, noting the readiness and preparedness of soldiers from day one.