WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 19, 2012) -- Six Army sergeants were recognized at the Pentagon, June 19, for their outstanding service in recruiting and career counseling.

Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal congratulated and recognized the honorees in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes. Westphal said the recruiters and counselors have "gone beyond the call of duty."

"These Soldiers expertly detailed future career options, assisted Soldiers who re-enlisted, and provided them and their families with all the opportunities and options that come with staying Army Strong," Westphal said. "Their contributions significantly help the Army to truly be the strength of the nation."

Recognized were Sgt. 1st Class William P. Bastian, career counselor of the year; Master Sgt. Robert L. Weers, reserve-component career counselor of the year; Sgt. 1st Class Craig A. Wester, National Guard recruiter and retention noncommissioned officer of the year; Master Sgt. Arnaldo Caban-Cruz, Army Reserve career counselor of the year; Sgt. 1st Class Tilton L. Washington III, recruiter of the year; and Staff Sgt. Stephen M. Sibley, Army Reserve recruiter of the year.

This was a special trip for Army recruiter of the year Washington, a member of the 3rd Stryker Brigade from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., which is currently serving in Afghanistan. Washington took a brief leave of duty from Afghanistan to accept his award in the nation's capital.

"This is one of the greatest experiences of my life," Washington said. "I would have never thought that I would actually come to the Pentagon and receive an award from the under secretary of the Army."

As recruiter of the year, Washington knows the challenges and successes of asking someone to put on the uniform of the United States Army.

"It's always challenging to try to get someone to come out of the norm," Washington said.

The under secretary noted that career counselors, whose mission it is to retain Soldiers, also have a difficult mission.

"This challenge is compounded by the fact that we recruit Soldiers, but in many ways we retain families," Westphal said. "To meet this challenge, today's retention program involves a complex support system for Soldiers and their families."

Caban-Cruz, honoree for the Army Reserve career counselor of the year, echoed the words of the under secretary. Caban-Cruz said the job of retaining Soldiers is always challenging, yet he encourages Soldiers to stay because of the benefits the Army provides Soldiers and their families.

Caban-Cruz, who is stationed at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, said Westphal congratulated him in perfect Spanish.

"This has been an unbelievable experience," Caban-Cruz said. "Knowing that all the work that I have done, that the mentorship and the leaders that I've had through my careers and everything that they have taught me has helped me to get to this point is unbelievable."

For Sibley, the Army Reserve recruiter of the year and second-time participant in the competition, the whole experience was humbling.

"This was the best thing that I've ever seen since being in the military," Sibley said, reflecting on his past eight years of enlistment. "It's just amazing."

Page last updated Wed June 20th, 2012 at 10:39