WASHINGTON (Dec. 16, 2015) -- A senior noncommissioned officer, assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group, or SFG, (Airborne), recently distinguished herself in a vocation, where she and her peers serve as subject matter experts in the development and continued service of their fellow Soldiers and directly impact the Army's readiness for its current and future missions.

After a rigorous series of boards and evaluations, Sgt. 1st Class Jill Thompson, a native of Ontario, California, and a career counselor assigned to the 7th SFG (A)'s Group Support Battalion, or GSB, was named the 2015 First Special Forces Command (Airborne) (Provisional)'s Career Counselor of the Year.

"Career counselors are a force multiplier for the Army; we ensure the Army is manned with the right Soldiers in the right locations" said Thompson about the role of a career counselor in a unit. "We have a direct pulse on the atmosphere and morale within the unit… and provide a trusting environment, which allows Soldiers to truly express their thoughts and concerns."

Career counselors possess two equally important missions. They work to maintain the readiness of the unit and the Army as a whole by ensuring Soldiers with the desired skills and values remain in the service. Equally as imperative, they assist in the professional development of Soldiers in their unit by advising them on education and assignment opportunities open to them.

"Sgt. 1st Class Thompson does an amazing job, both in assisting commanders in retaining incredibly experienced Soldiers and helping those Soldiers further their careers," said Lt. Col. Tandy Brown, commander of 7th SFG's GSB. "Career counselors must understand a myriad of regulations, MILPER [military personnel] messages and have a passion for both the mission and the Soldiers they assist. Sgt. 1st Class Thompson is the epitome of these qualities and the 7th Group Support Battalion is very proud of her."

There is no definitive guide to study to prepare for the Career Counselor of the Year board. Soldiers serving in the position and competing for the board must know every aspect of the Army Retention Program and be knowledgeable of the current policies in place concerning Soldier reenlistment and education.

To be successful during the board, competitors must devote their free time to studying the regulations and policies in place and learn every day while assisting Soldiers in their reenlistment and education opportunities.

"The ability to impact a Soldier's career in a positive way and assist the leadership in accomplishing the unit's mission by retaining the best qualified Soldiers and NCO's [noncommissioned officers] is a big motivating factor and highly rewarding," Thompson said about the highlights of being a career counselor. "Becoming a career counselor was the best opportunity for me to impact change in my unit and in the Army. I was given the opportunity to do something that I genuinely enjoy doing and I wanted to help other Soldiers do the same."