AG Soldiers receive special recognition
August 25, 2011
AG Soldiers, from as far as Kuwait and Joint Base Balad, Iraq, joined leaders at Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq, to recognize some of the last scheduled AG Soldiers in Iraq. . The COB Adder Adjutant General's Recognition Day was focused on recognizing AG Soldiers with regimental awards, while fostering team-building and networking among the more than 120 human resources professionals located here.
"What started out as a small BBQ with all COB Adder AG leaders and Soldiers, turned into a full blown AG Recognition Day ceremony," said Maj. Mary A. Smith, officer-in-charge for the personnel section of the 4th Sustainment Brigade, 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, and a Lawton, Okla., native, and event coordinator. "I wanted a platform where we could not only recognize a few outstanding AG Soldiers, but unite the AG community across the [operational area] and share knowledge, experience and build lasting relationships. I think we exceeded my expectations. I was so proud to see so many AG leaders and Soldiers come out and support this event."
Members of Adjutant General's Corps Regimental Association chapters worldwide are routinely recognized for their contributions to the AGCRA and the human resources profession. Among the awards presented to recipients were the Horatio Gates bronze medal, for significant achievement and service of an extended period; the AGCRA achievement medal, for achievement and service in promoting the objectives of the AGCRA and human resources profession; and the Theodore Roosevelt medal, for achieving a maximum score on the Army physical fitness test.
"It was a surprise," said Spc. Sharyl Moore, a battalion postal clerk with the 1st Battalion, 229th Aviation Regiment, 77th Theater Aviation Brigade, and a Richmond, Va., native, who received an AGCRA achievement medal. "I was really excited to hear I was getting an award and to be a part of history."
The event's emphasis on networking and camaraderie of AG professionals had a significant impact on some National Guard AG Soldiers who received awards.
"I'm honored. It's a good experience to have everybody out here and to get some recognition from all these great people is a great thing," said Sgt. Randall Carter, a human resources noncommissioned officer with the 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 77th TAB, from the Virginia National Guard, who also received an AGCRA achievement medal. "We talk to the active duty [Soldiers] all the time. It's good to share experiences and find out what works and what doesn't work. All that knowledge at COB Adder is a good thing."
Col. Stephen L. Shea, director of the 14th Human Resources Sustainment Center, currently deployed to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, and the keynote speaker for the event, focused on the challenges and opportunities for growth in the AG Corps more than five years following the Army's implementation of the personnel services delivery redesign initiative that removed command and control layers in providing human resources support to a modular and technically focused approach.
"I believe that PSDR has worked well based on the current fight we are in. There are some improvements to be made and those improvements are in the hands of very capable, young officers, warrant officers, and NCOs [noncommissioned officer] that we have in the formations today," said Shea when assessing the effectiveness of the PSDR concept for the more than 2,500 AG Soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait. "Opportunities for AG personnel have never been better. As we are now fully integrated in the sustainment community, not only do we have battalion and brigade S1[personnel] positions, but our captains, majors, and lieutenant colonels are competitive for the [Headquarters, and Headquarters Command] and [Special Troops Battalion] commands. This goes as well for our master sergeants and sergeants major being looked at for the first sergeant and command sergeant major positions. The limitation is the officer or NCO's hunger to go out and get those positions."
Col. Christine L. Vuskalns, personnel OIC for the 310th ESC, and an Indianapolis, Ind., native, and an achievement medal recipient, reflected on her 27-year career as a human resources officer and the promise that the future holds for her and other AG professionals.
"It's about bringing the expertise to the commander. Doing it with a sense of mission because of the Global War on Terrorism," said Vuskalns. "I am only one female O-6 [Col.] in a Sustainment Command with 11 other O-6's and that is just a really neat environment to operate in -- to know that you are just as capable and bring as much to the fight as the other branches."
"When we stop and realize it is for our junior Soldiers [to be recognized], it is not optional," said Vuskalns of publically recognizing Soldiers for their contributions. "We actually really need to do this to emphasize to them how important they are to the fight."