Career Counselors keep Army 'strong'
Pfc. John Moore (right), 26th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga., re-enlists for six years Aug. 29, 2008 at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq. Soldier reenlistments, even in a war zone, are a tangible result of the work of Army career counselors. By educating Soldiers about their options, the opportunities available to them and the ways to enhance their careers and lives, career counselors play a vital role in helping maintain Army end strength.

FORT MCPHERSON, Ga. -- (One Soldier + desired duty station + bonus) X (happiness of the Soldier's Family members) = job satisfaction for a career counselor.

While it may not be an equation one would find in a math textbook, solving these equations is a daily activity for the combat multiplying Army career counselors.

"The ideal situation is to keep Soldiers happy and meet the needs of the Army," said Sgt. 1st Class Rosanne Fast, First Army career counselor, Fort McPherson, Ga.

Like a chiropractor who keeps the back's bones and discs in place, career counselors create harmony in the "backbone of the Army," the Noncommissioned Officer Corps and junior enlisted Soldiers.

Harmony is created by helping Soldiers get the most out of the opportunities presented to them by the Army.

While Army career counselors are often associated with reenlistment, their job entails much more, said Master Sgt. James Fast, a U.S. Army Central,Fort McPherson, Ga, career counselor, and Rosanne's spouse. Besides helping to maintain the Army's end strength, career counselors also work to educate Soldiers on aspects of their career.

"We're here to take care of Soldiers," James said, adding his desire to help Soldiers helped him make the switch from an M1 armor crewman. "We're like a father, a mother, a first sergeant; a little bit of everything."

That little bit of everything can also spill into preparing a Soldier for his or her post-Army life.

"We deal with promotion potential, duty assignments and special assignments, like drill sergeant and instructors; investments, like the Thrift Savings Program and retirement," Rosanne added.

With many Soldiers retiring after 20 years, some as young as 38, Fast said retirement pay is not necessarily enough to fund all of a Soldier's retirement. Hence, educating Soldiers on Army programs to get the most opportunities is an important task. A career counselor can have a positive impact on a Soldier even after they leave the Army, Rosanne said.

Seeing that positive impact is what makes the job so exciting for her, Rosanne said. Originally a logistics NCO, Fast decided to become a career counselor after seeing the satisfaction it gave James.

"When you get that assignment a Soldier wants, it is a great feeling," Rosanne said. Career counselors don't get a particular assignment or bonus, but merely act as a mediator between Soldiers and a necessary parties; however, they do get to be the deliverer of good news, which has led to quite a few interesting encounters, she added.

The most exciting' For James, he said in his 10 years as a counselor, there are too many to count. Rosanne will always remember a Soldier's wife who cried and came to Rosanne's office to hug her.

"There was a Soldier, an MP (military police), who deployed several times and had the opportunity to go to Europe. His unit was getting ready for another deployment and could have been stop-lossed," she explained. "We had to move his report date, but we got the assignment. The wife was so excited; she always wanted to go to Europe."

Such joys have an amazingly long impact, Rosanne said. In her career, she has run into several Soldiers who remembered her and the help she provided. Recently, a Soldier Rosanne helped honored her by asking her to reenlist him.

Such positives not only make the job worthwhile, but also a little bit easier.

"If I positively impact a Soldier and he or she take it back (to his or her unit), it gets the ball rolling," Rosanne said, especially when the said Soldier is a fellow NCO.

"NCOs are who Soldiers work with day to day. They have a huge impact on the morale and quality of work," Rosanne said. "NCOs make it happen."

Which is exactly what the Fasts, and other Army career counselors, do daily for Soldiers and their Families, one piece of advice at a time.

Page last updated Fri January 9th, 2009 at 08:23