By Ms. Ashley Patoka (Regional Health Command Europe)May 3, 2019
SEMBACH, Germany - For Master Sgt. Carlos Dubon, joining the U.S. Army provided him an opportunity to earn his college degree while also working for an organization with values he shared. Now, nearly 20 years later, he helps Soldiers' to see the value in sticking with the Army.
As the Regional Health Command Europe senior career counselor, Dubon provides individual counseling to Soldiers helping to determine their reenlistment eligibility and future career options.
It was early in his own Army career that Dubon had his first interaction with a career counselor.
"During my first interaction with the career counselor I knew that it was something I wanted to do," Dubon said. "But it isn't an entry level job."
So he told himself that as soon as he was able to apply to be a counselor that is what he was going to do.
"It literally took me 10 years, but it was worth the wait," he said. "The Army had different plans for me before becoming a career counselor, but those opportunities enabled me to better understand and to have more appreciation of my job. They also gave me the tools to help me convey the Army's story better."
Dubon was born and raised in Guatemala and came to the United States after high school for an opportunity to go to college and work -- he didn't plan on joining the Army.
"One evening I was watching TV and I saw an advertisement that said, 'be all you can be,' and it caught my attention."
So Dubon scheduled an appointment to talk to an Army recruiter, and together they put together a plan that enabled him to go to college and work.
Dubon quickly discovered that the Army is a values-based organization that promotes a culture of inclusion and provides everyone with the opportunity to excel.
"I can honestly say that from the time I interacted with my recruiter I started noticing that there were a lot of professional aspects that I valued," Dubon said. "I truly connected immediately with the organization -- and as I worked and embraced the Army values I became 'sold' on working for an organization that has equal opportunities for everyone."
His connection with the Army made him the perfect candidate to be a recruiter -- he applied and was accepted to the Corporal Recruiting Program which was just a pilot program at the time.
"Here I was, not yet a U.S. citizen," Dubon said, "but still, presenting the Army's programs and opportunities."
And while his connection to the Army made him an ideal recruiter, his passion helped him succeed.
"Something I have always believed, is that you have to be a walking advocate," he said. "You cannot ask anyone, to do something they don't see value in. However, sometimes presenting the Army as a product is hard, because you cannot touch it, and you cannot see it -- except to see the results of the opportunities."
After being a recruiter, Dubon worked at a Military Entrance Processing Station and then went on to work at a basic training location as a human resources specialist. Each one of these locations provided him with insight on the process a Soldier goes through when joining the Army.
"From applicants, to trainees, to junior soldiers, I can see how everyone, with a little bit of guidance, can be all they want to be," he said.
And having seen the entire process, Dubon said he most enjoys the retention of Soldiers.
"Recruiting is challenging, and is such a fast-paced environment, that you don't get the opportunity to see the applicant's professional transformation and really get to know the future Soldier," he said.
As a career counselor, Dubon says it is his job to help Soldier's understand the benefit of continued service, and if he can't connect with them then he can't determine the best way to help that Soldier.
"If I don't connect with Soldiers, there is no way for me to better advise them on what is best for them," he said. "And once the connecting part works -- even if they don't get exactly what they are looking for --at least they see that you care to connect with them and work to find them the best second choice."
And even if it is the Soldier's second choice, knowing that he was able to help them come up with a plan for their future is what keeps him going.
"The best part of my job is to know that I had the ability to convey the Army's story and see the Soldiers come up with their own plan of action," Dubon said. "Informed Soldiers are happy Soldiers. That is something I always enjoy -- seeing the smiles and seeing them take full advantage of what the Army can do for them."
Dubon says that when a Soldier makes the decision to stay in the Army that it is a testament to the entire organization.
"When Soldiers reenlist it sends a strong validation that we are doing great," Dubon said. "Nobody will commit to stay longer in an organization that is not treating them well. So every time someone says yes, they say yes to all of us."