FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Both Sgt. 1st Class Michelle Smith and Staff Sgt. Gary Everett take care of Soldiers daily, and recently the two garnered high awards for their efforts.

Army officials named Smith, a U.S. Army Aviation Logistics School career counselor, the top Training and Doctrine Command Career Counselor of the Year, while Everett finished second in TRADOC's Retention Officer of the Year competition. Smith won the TRADOC award for the second consecutive year, she said.

Smith competed at the Department of the Army level in late January, where she finished in a virtual tie for first place but lost after several re-evaluations, said Master Sgt. Michael Jennings, the installation's senior career counselor.

"I was flabbergasted. The other career counselors, they're all just as good. They're all looking out for Soldiers," Smith said of her TRADOC victory and strong DA finish.

The Soldiers faced a board of personnel who evaluated them on their work records and responses to questions, Smith said, noting the questions addressed subject material related to their jobs.

Jennings said both Everett, the 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment retention officer, and Smith are "outstanding Soldiers" who "have very high motivation."

That motivation reflects in their work records because by mid-February, Smith achieved 116 percent and Everett 72 percent of their retention goals for the 2010 fiscal year, Jennings said.
To produce at such a high level, Everett and Smith share the same philosophy.

"Take care of the Soldier. It's all about the Soldier, period," Everett said.

In order to do that, Everett said retention officers and career counselors must investigate all options available for Soldiers nearing the end of their service obligations. When retention officers and counselors present all the options, Soldiers can make informed decisions.

To help them meet their retention goals, Smith and Everett said they discuss Families and attitudes with the Soldiers to find any issues or concerns.

"(Anything) can have an impact. It could be one little thing that makes the difference for them," Everett said.

Smith noted things like money, commanders and command climate also play a role.

Even though both received individual honors, they attributed their success to co-workers and leaders.

"I think it is a group effort. I'm very fortunate to have outstanding leadership and a good peer group," Smith said. "Without them, I wouldn't be able to do what I do."

Everett said his co-workers and the 1st Bn., 13th Avn. Regt., command group provide him support when he needs it, also noting the command group is "really retention-oriented."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16