FORT BRAGG. N.C. -- Two Soldiers came out on top after competing against six other Soldiers from across the command during the 2016 FORSCOM Career Counselor of the Year Competition held here, Jan. 23 - 26.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Kindle, representing I Corps, headquartered at Joint-Base Lewis McChord, Wash. was named the U. S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) Active Duty Career Counselor of the Year and Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Wienczkowski, representing III Corps, Fort Hood, Texas, was named the FORSCOM Reserve Component Career Counselor of the Year.

General Robert B. Abrams, commanding general of FORSCOM, was on hand to present Kindle and Wienczkowski each a trophy and Meritorious Service Medal for winning the competition.

Abrams spoke to career counselors and others in attendance and told them their job is not to "sell" the Army. "We have high-performing Soldiers who meet our standards and want this way of life. Soldiers want to serve their country and you are the tip of the spear to enable that to happen," said Abrams.

There are 954 Career Counselors in the entire Army and nearly half of them, 480, are in FORSCOM. The eight competing Soldiers who came to compete represented the best in each of their commands. Five of the competitors were active duty and three were Army reservists.

Each competitor was judged on their performance in an Army Physical Fitness Test, written exam, board appearance and a "mystery event" that turned out to be a surprise career counseling session with a female Soldier who was interested in potentially filling one of the combat positions recently opened to women.

"Competitions like this accomplish three things; they test the competitors leadership competencies against their peers, solidifies their commitment to professional development, and provides competitors exposure to many of our career field's senior-most leaders which can be beneficial for future assignments, schooling and promotion opportunities," said Sgt. Maj. Matthew Quick, command career counselor for FORSCOM.

Kindle and Wienczkowski will go on to represent the Army's largest command as they compete for recognition as the Department of the Army Career Counselor of the Year at a follow-on competition being held in Washington, D.C., Feb. 27 through Mar. 3.

While there for the competition, the Soldiers will also enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime tour of the oldest active-duty infantry unit in the Army, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), where they will get a behind-the-scenes look at the caisson stables and the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Noncommissioned officers hoping to become Career Counselors must serve as unit retention noncommissioned officers and be evaluated and recommended by their local retention sergeant major for the Career Counselor Course. Once selected, they go through an 8-week course at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

For more information on becoming a Career Counselor, visit the "Join the USAREC Team" at http://www.usarec.army.mil/.