4-2 Inf. Div. Soldier named I Corp's Career Counselor of the Year
August 29, 2012
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash.--Today's Army is looking to retain only the best and brightest Soldiers. Career counselors, Army wide, must not only maintain their own physical fitness and job skills but have the added responsibility of identifying Soldiers who meet the Army's standard for retention as well as relaying that message to leadership at the Department of the Army.
There are several active duty career counselors within I Corps; however, there is only one career counselor of the year. This year's coveted title was earned by Staff Sgt. Jesse Ryan during the annual competition Aug. 23 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
Ryan, a career counselor assigned to the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, and native of Highwood, Mont., started out his career as a chemical operations specialist. He worked as a retention NCO at the company level and loved it so much that he made the decision to become a career counselor, he said he's never looked back.
"I love it when I can help out a Soldier," Ryan said. "It affects their jobs, their lives and their families. I have the greatest job in the Army.
"Ryan's wife, Erin, who is expecting an addition to their army family later this year, takes great pride in what her husband does for the Army. " I am extremely proud of Ryan," said Erin. "I love the fact that his career helps Soldiers to further their careers and provides their families with long-term stability in the Army."
Three noncommissioned officers started off the competition early in the morning by taking the Army's Physical Fitness Test followed by a challenging written exam, putting their technical skills to the test.
"I am continually amazed by just how my much, we, as counselors, really have to know from the regulations," said Staff Sgt. Joseph Payne II, a career counselor assigned to the 56th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 62nd Medical Brigade, and native of Washington D.C., who placed third in the competition. "When I walked out of there, I felt like my brain was on fire."
By the afternoon, the Soldiers had appeared before a selection board presided over by Sgt. Maj. Daniel R. Blashill, I Corps' command career counselor, along with other senior career counselors across I Corps.
The competitors were judged on their appearance and ability to verbally articulate just what it takes to retain great Soldiers in today's Army.
"When noncommissioned officers become career counselors, they are already the cream of the crop," said Blashill. "This board helps them to distinguish themselves amongst their peers and gives them a well-deserved opportunity to shine."
The runner up in the competition traveled more than 1900 miles from Fort Sill, Okla. to compete this year.
"You have to always be able to determine the needs of the Soldiers," said Staff Sgt. Jason McDonald, a career counselor assigned the 75th Fires Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, I Corps, at Fort Riley, Kan., with duty at Fort Sill, Okla., and native of Blanchard, Okla. "It's a job you have to be 100 percent engaged in at all times."
"We as career counselors are the Army's honest brokers ," said Sgt. 1st Class Brian K. Williams, senior career counselor at 4th Brigade, 2nd Inf. Div., as well as Ryan's sponsor at the competition. "It's great to see a smart, honest, educated well-spoken young man like Staff Sgt. Ryan take the board."
Annually, the Secretary of the Army presides over a board held in Washington, D.C. and two noncommissioned officers from the Active and Reserve Components are selected as the Career Counselors of the Year.
Ryan is scheduled to compete at Forces Command's Career Counselor of the Year competition held during September at Fort Bragg, N.C.
If he wins at Bragg, Ryan may have the opportunity to represent FORSCOM and take the title of this year's Secretary of the Army's Career Counselor of the Year.
For more information about Career Counselors contact the I Corps' Retention Office at (253-477-)