FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 22, 2014) -- Soldiers who make a career of the military receive lots of advice on the way to retirement. One of the voices they hear is an Army career counselor.

Sgt. 1st Class Jason Brown, B Company, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment, is a career counselor and said he takes pride in advising Soldiers on their careers, from cradle to grave.

"A career counselor is someone who takes care of Soldiers and their careers. We guide them as far as what steps they need to follow to better their chances of getting promoted, how they can advance their career through schools, what assignments might be beneficial to them, what might benefit them most down the road, what training is available to them and things of that nature," he said.

Brown also said they counsel Soldiers throughout the year to keep in touch with them and to make sure they are trying to better their careers in one way or another.

"Career counselors are the subject matter experts when it comes to finding out how they can become better Soldiers, and that often includes enlistment possibilities," he continued. "We are also the eyes and ears for commanders, because a big part of our job is to advise them on what the Army is looking for, so our remaining numbers and strength stay where the Army needs them."

During the drawdown, Brown said that retention has had to tighten the belt to keep quality Soldiers.

"We have been a lot busier because Soldiers are worried about the outside job market," he said. "Many believe that if they don't take the opportunity to reenlist as soon as they can, then they might not be able to later on in the year."

Brown said that career counselors not only maintain Army readiness by maintaining quality in-strength numbers, but they also fill the Army's occupational specialty shortages, and help every Soldier with educational and career advancement.

"It is a demanding job because it entails so many things besides reenlistment," he said.

Brown has been a counselor for seven years, and said he wanted the job because he saw the difference in Soldiers' lives he could make while serving as a retention officer before becoming a counselor.

"Being able to see Soldiers and their Families get the things that they want, and helping to advance their careers the way they want, is very rewarding for me," he said. "It is a feeling like no other when a Soldier says, 'Thank you for helping me.' I love to help Soldiers, and I love to see the look on their faces when I tell them I can get them what they want."

Brown and other career counselors have a big influence on many Soldiers' decisions on what to do with their careers, what is best for them and what is best for the Army.

"By doing what I do, I think I have made the Army stronger," he said. "Career counselors ensure that Soldier's careers are taken care of. We want Soldiers to progress through the ranks and succeed in their journey to be better Soldiers for America."