FORT SILL, Okla.-- Two Fort Sill Soldiers went to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. July 22-26 to give their opinions. In return, they came back to the Fires Center of Excellence with first and second place trophies from the Career Counselor Active and Reserve Component and Re-enlistment NCO of the Year competition.

Sgt. 1st Class William Schaffhauser III, 30th Air Defense Artillery, took first place in the Career Counselor Active and Reserve Component competition and Staff Sgt. Nicole Carroll, B Battery, 1st Battalion 40th Field Artillery, came in second for the Re-enlistment NCO of the Year competition.

"We're just ecstatic about their performance at the TRADOC level. For both of them to go up there and Schaffhauser to win it and Carroll to come in a very close second, well it said a lot for Fort Sill," said Sgt. Maj. Daniel Hilton, Fort Sill Career Counselor commander.

Hilton said it also spoke highly of the command here because they gave the Soldiers time away from their duties to prepare for the competition.

The two gave their opinions to a board of sergeants major on different subjects, such as the retention mission; policies and goals; role of the career counselor; current events; and Army policies that impact retention.

"It was pretty hard because you're on the spot. They ask you this question that you haven't honestly prepared for because you're not sure what you're getting going into that board," said Schaffhauser.

When they asked him about sequestration measures in the government, Schaffhauser said he knew enough about the current event to decide how it would effect his mission in the Army. He said as a career counselor it could possibly impact re-enlistment bonuses and the ability to reclassify Soldiers into different military occupational specialities.

He also had to write an essay in which he broke down the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's white paper. He had to provide suggestions on how to build a stronger Soldier. Schaffhauser addressed the lack of life experiences many of the young Soldiers have entering the Army, and he suggested leaders help guide them through counseling statements to avoid financial trouble and other problems.

Schaffhauser was also judged on his record of success in managing a retention program, knowledge of the Army's retention program and personal innovations in retention and transition methods.

Both competitors have seen how the Army drawdown has impacted Soldiers and Schaffhauser said he agrees with keeping the best Soldiers in the Army.

"The hardest thing is understanding the intent of the new measures that the Secretary of the Army has implemented and helping our commanders understand that," said Schaffhauser. "The measures are spelled out but the intent behind it was to make re-enlistment more of a privilege than it has been. It seemed to be an entitlement in the past several years. It's more of a privilege in keeping our quality over quantity."

Formerly an Air Defender, he made the transition to career counselor more than three years ago and believes it is the best fit for him in the military.

"This is the best change I've made in my entire Army career. This really suits me and my personality. I really like the opportunity of counseling Soldiers and really having the opportunity to get mentorship from senior levels," said Schaffhauser.

Carroll is a rentention NCO which means it is an additional duty. Her full time job is being a drill sergeant.

"It's a little easier for career counselors because it's a daily occurrence for them, but for the retention NCOs you've got to get that new message and then you've got to decipher it and actually understand what that new message is saying. For our retention NCOs it's a big responsibility and I think that's why there was only four competitors at the TRADOC level," said Hilton.

Carroll is one of several drill sergeant retention NCOs, but Schaffhauser said she doesn't let her busy schedule get in the way.

"She's the best of them. She can multitask better than anyone I know," said Schaffhauser.
Carroll said it's like any other task she's given in the Army she just executes. She finds time when she's on 24-hour duty and said she actually enjoys it so much she wants to reclass to be a career counselor herself.

"Honestly, I like the camaraderie," Carroll said. "Their field is so small and they interact just like Sergeant Schaffhauser was saying. They get that mentorship that's right there, always ready and available."

Carroll is getting "off the trail" in September. She said if she does reclass, Schaffhauser will have her to compete against next year.

"I will be back next year, most definitely. Next year I will win," said Carroll.

Schaffhauser has been studying twice a week for the last month and a half and he will continue to prepare for the next level, the Secretary of the Army Career Counselor of the Year competition in January in Washington, D.C.

"We'll continue to prep him and hopefully he can win that and bring that home back to Fort Sill as well," said Hilton.

Page last updated Thu August 2nd, 2012 at 00:00