Sgt. 1st Class Derek Yazzie, right, was named Fort Jackson's Career Counselor of the Year last week. Staff Sgt. Timothy Yarbrough was the runner-up. Yazzie will represent Fort Jackson via video teleconference in the TRAD OC competition Sept. 5.

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Sgt. 1st Class Derek Yazzie was named Fort Jackson's Career Counselor of the Year.

Career counselors help manage retention and reenlistment interviews, review re-enlistment and extension documents for accuracy, and advise command on all areas of the retention program. Counselors also mentor Soldiers and family members regarding benefits, programs and opportunities. They function as personal agents on behalf of commanders and the Department of the Army through the Army Retention Program.

All Soldiers have a career counselor available to them who can usually be found at the battalion levels and above.

"Once you've met the Army's and the Soldiers' needs, it's always a great thing," said Yazzie, of the 193rd Infantry Brigade. "We're trying to maintain the Army's force with the best-qualified Soldiers."

Competitors for the installation Career Counselor of the Year have to be recommended by their chain of command up through at least the brigade level, said Sgt. Maj. Mark Mayo, installation command career counselor.

"When they come to installation level, we look at their overall knowledge, based on the written examination we give them and their Army Physical Fitness Test scores," he said. "They also do an installation board appearance where we quiz them on areas related to retention and current events."

Staff Sgt. Timothy Yarbrough was runner-up for the installation Career Counselor of Year.

"Our job is to take care of Soldiers' careers, help them with career progression, help them with reclassification and, of course, re-enlistment," said Yarbrough, a career counselor with the Soldier Support Institute. "The career counselor does career management for all enlisted Soldiers. The most challenging part of the job is making sure we take what the Army needs and what the Soldier needs and make those two meet. We can't always give the Soldier what he or she wants. We need to take what the Army needs and match it with what the Soldier needs."

"Anytime you compete against your peers, you're setting yourself up for failure," Mayo said. "There can only be one winner. It takes a lot of personal courage to compete, which is one of the Army's core values."

Yazzie moves on to the TRADOC Career Counselor of the Year board Sept. 5, which will be conducted via video teleconference.

Page last updated Mon August 26th, 2013 at 09:51