FORT BRAGG, N.C. - She's like most Soldiers. She's early to rise for morning physical fitness and anxious to start the day with her mission in hand. But it's the reasons she completes her mission that sets her apart from others.

Staff Sgt. JAfA!net Chatman-Kirkland, career counselor, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 27th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade, was the winner of the 2008 XVIII Airborne Corps Career Counselor of the Year and 2008 Fort Bragg Career Counselor of the Year. She understands the value of retaining Soldiers and keeping the Army at full strength.

"Retaining Soldiers is the only way we keep knowledge and expertise within the Army intact," said Kirkland. "That is why my job is so important to me."

"The competition is held to award career counselors based on their knowledge of their field and their professional appearance," said Master Sgt. Franklin E. Jacobs, brigade senior career counselor, 20th Eng. Bde. "She proved she was the most knowledgeable."

Kirkland, who has been a noncommissioned officer for the past nine years, knows the importance of taking care of Soldiers and their Families.

"When a Soldier comes to me to re-enlist, it is my job to try and help them reach their needs and that of their Families," said Kirkland.

As part of her day-to-day activities, Kirkland travels throughout her battalion talking to Soldiers about their jobs and potential reenlistment opportunities.

"She is very friendly and approachable for Soldiers," said Sgt. 1st Class Trisha Galloway, brigade career counselor, 20th Eng. Bde. "She relates to them."

As part of the re-enlistment process, Soldiers may receive monetary bonuses, leave days or Army promotional items. It is a career counselor's job to inform Soldiers of the opportunities they are eligible for.

"You can get a whole lot done with a coffee cup," said Kirkland. "It's fun interacting with Soldiers and learning about them."

Similar to any job, career counselors are given deadlines and missions to accomplish.

"Kirkland focuses on helping Soldiers first and then continues on completing her mission," said Galloway.

To Kirkland, career counseling is more than just a job, it's her passion.

"The knowledge that helped me win the awards is the knowledge that helps Soldiers every day," said Kirkland.