By Annette P. Gomes Warrior Care and TransitionNovember 14, 2017
ARLINGTON, Va. - If you ask retired U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Anthony Thomas what his dream job is, he'll respond emphatically.
"I'm living it!"
After 23 years in the military, Thomas retired and became a Battalion Transition Coordinator at Fort Hood, Texas. He says it's an extension of his military service.
"I say that truly because I am very humbled to be in a position where I can continue to serve our Soldiers and their families and assist them with making a smooth transition either back into the force or a productive citizen in the private sector with multiple opportunities. I do understand some of the stress about what the future is going to look like because I've been in their shoes," Thomas said.
And while Thomas has walked a mile in their shoes, the cornerstone of Thomas's drive for helping Soldiers in transition is what he calls the backbone of their existence.
"You have to know it's more than just the Soldier. At the end of the day it's the Soldier and his family and often times an uncertain future. They ponder questions like, how can I feed my family? What's next for me and my career? What are the opportunities available to me?" Thomas said. "My greatest reward in my dream job is witnessing service members get engaged in their future and gain employment or college degrees after their efforts in the Continuing Education Program. It does my heart well to see them leave the Warrior Transition Battalion happy and better off than when they came."
As the old adage goes, Thomas says success or luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity for Soldiers.
"Nothing is automatically given to us. The Soldier must be proactive in his or her search for a career opportunity. It's also imperative to help the Soldier prepare to transition prior to leaving the military," Thomas said. "We must take advantage of all the resources that are available to us while we are in the uniform. Preparation plays a significant role in the transition phase and we want to make sure all Soldiers are set up for success."
While Thomas was guiding Soldiers on the path toward their success, the Army community was following him. He was recently awarded the Laura "Pat" Taylor Advocate of the Year Award, an award given to an employee or volunteer who has made an impact on persons with disabilities through their work or effort.
"I am grateful and humbled to receive this award. I don't take it lightly nor do I take it for granted," Thomas said. "At the end of the day it will always be about the Soldier, the veterans and their families. To quote the great Sam Mills who played for the New Orleans Saints, 'I want to be the first one to know when I do wrong, but the last one to know when I do good. This is truly how I feel. I live my life to serve these warriors and all the people that come into my life. I am grateful!"