Tuesday, June 4, 2013

We Need Officers... Part Three

God has already supplied the Army with all the evangelistic tools needed to fulfill that part of His great commission assigned to us.  There are however, two resources lacking; the abundance of time and well-trained, committed Salvation Army officers. 

The next two articles in this series will share additional statistics; reasons why FSAOF resigned their officerships and the vast available resource represented to advance the salvation war.

Ever since the FSAOF's inception a principle intent and goal was to serve alongside SA leaders. The USA West TC, Commissioner Jim Knaggs  is known, with respect as a 'mover and shaker', and an effective and superb innovator. I pray that we, the FSAOF, can together with the US Western territory introduce new thinking to thwart attrition and indeed, to effect a return of 'formers' to substantive rank.

General Shaw Clifton’s concern was expressed in his article, “If Crosses Come” in a 2009 The Officer article.

‘Each year I receive the global annual statistics for officer resignations and dismissals. Those, for the calendar year of 2007 show that fewer colleagues left officership than in 2006. Of approximately 16,500 active officers, 257 or 1.6% left in 2007 (274 or 1.9% in 2006).’

Today's stats will speak to the unique quality of our ‘formers’. They're SA trained, and the additional education, experience, professionalism and maturity gained since their resignation signal out many as the ideal resource to bring on board in order to put in motion some of the Commissioner's visionary plans. The re-hiring of professionals who's skills have been further honed elsewhere is one of the most effective means of moving an organization that's settled into complacency to return to a vibrancy and to move forward again. Look at what happened right down the street from the USA West’ THQ when Apple brought back Steve Jobs! 

The General details the cause and effect (%) of resignations: 

Domestics, marital or family; 25.29 %
Dissatisfaction; (appointment/remuneration); 21.01%
Misconduct; 19.06%
Unsuited for further service; 9.7%
Transfer to another church; 6.23%
Marriage to non-officer; 5.8%
Feeling discouraged; 5.4%
Health issues; 5.4 %
Health of spouse; .4 %)
Doctrinal issues; 1.55 %

The General's comments reflect a positive position and consequently, one of lesser urgency than those shared regularly by officers in the field, SA soldiers generally, and those shared in the FSAOF blog. One must remember though the General was addressing the world- wide army and needed to put on the best possible face. However, two UK denominations challenged TSA’s official claim, with one calling us ‘naïve’ and the other ‘self-deceptive’.

Assuming the resignations remain at a percentage level of between 1.5 and 2 %, one must also remember that each departing officer often represents a significant number of years of active service; experience and commitment.

The average number of years of service represented by members of the FSAOF is approximately 12-14, or a combined 15,000 years (1,000+ members worldwide). Further, at the current rate of departure, this represents a staggering 2,500 experienced and tested officers ‘leaving the work’ every decade. And the cost?

In 2011 it costs the UKIT between £50 and 60,000 per annum to train a Cadet. ($80,000.00+ USD) – confirmed through THQ sources. Over a two-year period the cost will be a minimum of £100,000 per commissioned officer ($160,000.00). The cost is, when tested against the provision of a similarly capitol city institution very modest! Yet, if the current attrition rate continues it translates as a ROI loss of more than £1,000,000.00 per year.

It's unlikely that anyone knows for certain the exact numbers of those who have resigned their officership, or the cost to the army. However, a simple statistical review will reveal that the total number is well over fifteenthousand, and perhaps it's to everyone’s advantage to keep the count and cost private. Nonetheless, there's little doubt that the count exceeds the number of those still in active service. FSAOF members share that typically, fewer than 50% of their session mates remain in active service.

The personal loss to those resigning cannot, of course, be measured. The private FSAOF FB site includes hundred of statements (15 – 25 per day) detailing family break-ups, financial ruin, spiritual derailment and much more. Not all of the misery experienced could have been prevented but only a very few of the hundreds of formers speaks to any effort being made by TSA to provide counseling or other practical assistance.

A quick review of the FSAOF survey results; their profile and why they resigned…


A first and key step in formulating a successful strategy in seeking the return to active service is acknowledging that reconciliation and reform is necessary, identifying where and what ought to be the immediate objects of our focus. One need only take a cursory look at the many comments by former officers to recognize where a spirit of mutual respect and concern for the overall mission of TSA might have averted the alarmingly high percentage of officer resignations.

Survey results follow that speaks specifically to the suitability of scores of officers relative to their potential effectiveness should they be encouraged to seek a return and be re- accepted. 
More than 80% of former officers are college graduates with 40% having completed or working towards a post graduate degree. I don't believe there's a modern day organization that wouldn't envy the potential 'production boost' represented by the above credentials.

Sven Ljungholm

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