Perpetual drive pushes Soldier to honor and achievement
June 29, 2009
FORT MONMOUTH, N.J. -- It's around 7:30 in the morning in May when Spc. Joshua Geren, Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC), returns from a grueling workout of sit-ups, push-ups and running.
Drenched in sweat, the signs of strenuous physical exertion clearly visible, Geren has just completed part one of the competition for the title of the Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's (REDCOM) Soldier of the Year.
"I could have done better. It was not up to the standards that I set for myself," Geren said of his performance in the Physical Fitness test.
The dissatisfaction Geren registered with his performance that day, despite praise from the sergeants major judging the competition, is indicative of Geren's drive toward excellence.
His drive helped him to eventually win the competition and honors as Soldier of the Year.
"When he found out he was going to be doing this it wasn't, 'Okay, I'll do what I can.' He was going to put his best foot forward to represent REDCOM and CERDEC well. So it wasn't just 'Oh well, I've got to go do this'; It was, 'I'm going to do the best job I can do,'" said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Scheidt, CERDEC senior enlisted advisor and member of the board that judged the competition.
"It is a very significant title and a lot of hard work has gone into achieving it," said Geren, who was also required to write an essay on patriotism and field questions from the judges on topics ranging from what he thought of President Obama's tax incentive to how to treat a wounded Soldier.
The 39-year-old Oklahoma native joined the military in the fall of 2002 after working as a territory manager for a company that disposed of medical equipment.
"I grew up around the military and had always entertained the thought of joining. Then the war kicked off and I really wanted to join," said Geren.
He was stationed in Afghanistan throughout 2004 and 2005 and Iraq during 2006 and 2007.
In December of 2008, Geren began working as a satellite communicator and operator in the Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate of CERDEC.
Observing Geren's hardworking nature, Satellite Communications Operations Chief Joshua Gresham advocated his nomination for Soldier of the Year.
"Specialist Geren has been a go-getter since his arrival in December. His motivation, eagerness to learn and willingness to jump in and lend a hand has easily made him stand out from his peers," said Gresham. "When the opportunity to select a Soldier to compete for Soldier of the Year presented itself, all the noncommissioned officers of the Satellite Equipment Labs easily pointed to Spc. Geren."
With tuition assistance from the Army, Geren is finishing a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Oklahoma. Next, he hopes to acquire a master's degree.
A husband and father of three children, Geren believes that the military has improved his personal growth and helped him be a good family man.
"I have been in the Army for six years now and have completed two combat tours in the Infantry. During that time, I had some unique experiences that changed me. I would hope that I have grown not just as a person, but even more so as a husband and a father to my wife and children," said Geren.
Ultimately, he hopes to climb the ranks and acquire the designation of sergeant, a goal he now feels closer to reaching after his participation in the competition.
"At all times, we are striving to be the best we can be. There are all sorts of opportunities that the Army offers to enable you to make an impression and advance," said Geren.
Geren doesn't just have ambitions for himself, however; he nurtures a profound love for his country and wants it to remain, in his words, "the greatest nation the world has ever known."
"To Soldiers, love of country is a part of everyday life. They wear the flag, serve under it and are willing to go anywhere in the world to fight for it and if needed, die for it," Geren wrote in the essay portion of the competition.
Geren is scheduled to participate at the next level for AMC Soldier of the Year July 19-23 at Fort A.P. Hill, Va.
"I will be giving it everything I have, 110 percent," said Geren. "I am looking forward to the challenge."