Todays Army is looking to retain only the best and brightest Soldiers. Career counselors, Armywide, must not only maintain their own physical fitness and job skills but have the added responsibility of identifying Soldiers who meet the Armys standard for retention as well as relaying that message to Army leaders.
There are several active duty career counselors in I Corps, but only one career counselor of the year. Staff Sergeant Jesse Ryan earned the I Corps title Aug. 23 during the annual competition at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Ryan, a career counselor assigned to the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, started his career as a chemical operations specialist. He worked as a retention NCO in his company and made the decision to become a career counselor.
I love it when I can help out a Soldier, Ryan said. It affects their jobs, their lives and their Families. I have the greatest job in the Army."
Ryans wife, Erin, takes great pride in what her husband does for the Army.
I am extremely proud of Ryan, Erin said. I love the fact that his career helps Soldiers to further their careers and provides their Families with long-term stability in the Army.
Three NCOs started the Aug. 23 competition early with the Army Physical Fitness Test, followed by a written exam.
I am continually amazed by just how much, we, as counselors, really have to know from the regulations, said Staff Sgt. Joseph Payne II, a career counselor assigned to the 56th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 62nd Medical Brigade. When I walked out of there, I felt like my brain was on fire.
That afternoon, the Soldiers appeared before Sgt. Maj. Daniel R. Blashill, I Corps command career counselor, and a selection board made up of senior I Corps career counselors.
When noncommissioned officers become career counselors, they are already the cream of the crop, Blashill said. This board helps them to distinguish themselves amongst their peers and gives them a well-deserved opportunity to shine.
The runner up in the competition traveled more than 1,900 miles from Fort Sill, Okla. to compete this year.
You have to always be able to determine the needs of the Soldiers, said Staff Sgt. Jason McDonald, a career counselor assigned the 75th Fires Brigade, 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kan., with duty at Fort Sill, Okla. Its a job you have to be 100 percent engaged in at all times.
We as career counselors are the Armys honest brokers, said Sgt. 1st Class Brian K. Williams, senior career counselor at 4th Bde. 2nd Inf. Div., Ryans sponsor at the competition. Its great to see a smart, honest, educated, well-spoken young man like Staff Sgt. Ryan take the board.
The Secretary of the Army presides over the DA board held annually in Washington, D.C., during which NCOs from the active and reserve components are selected as the Career Counselors of the Year.
Ryan is scheduled to compete next at U.S. Army Forces Commands Career Counselor of the Year competition held in September at Fort Bragg, N.C.
If he wins at Bragg, Ryan will represent FORSCOM in competition for the Secretary of the Armys Career Counselor of the Year.