CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE Q-WEST, Iraq - Washington Army National Guard's Sgt. 1st Class Christine Viene believes in military education, and has put her belief into practice during this deployment.

Viene, assistant plans and operations noncommissioned officer in charge, Q-West Mayor Cell, 181st Brigade Support Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade, worked to create an education center and basic NCO teleconference course on post. She also took the lead in getting sixteen instructors qualified to teach a GT (general technical) improvement program.

"I was planning on continuing my education when I got here," said Viene, a native of Tacoma, Wash. "Unfortunately, there was no education center, no counselors or anything to speak of. When we were tasked to get something together I was pretty excited, since it was something that I had some interest in and I knew it would be of value to Soldiers."

Viene, who also serves as the unit's medical readiness NCO, said she is working toward a bachelor's degree in nursing, and hopes to retire someday as a sergeant major.

"I stay in the Army because I enjoy what I do," said Viene. "Being an NCO and taking care of Soldiers is fulfilling to me."

At Q-West there are seven classes being conducted that are helping more than 140 Soldiers improve their GT scores. The GT improvement classes enable Soldiers to score higher on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), which enables them to change jobs in the Army.

Viene also signed up college-level instructors to teach courses, and she coordinated with the Army Continuing Education System (ACES) and the Multi-National Corps - Iraq education services officer to assign college counselors and proctors from Central Texas College and the University of Maryland to the Q-West education center.

The busy NCO wears many hats at the base. She has served as the coach for the 181st BSB and 81st Brigade Specials Troops Battalion combined "2009 Sustainer Challenge" team. She coordinated individual weapons training and ranges. She was the primary unit trainer for litter carry and other medical tasks. Viene also established a medical training program with medics to train 145 local national workers on industrial first aid and the automated external defibrillator to help Iraqis understand how to give first responder care to each other.

"Teaching and mentoring Soldiers is so important because it sets them up for success in the future," said Viene. "It's just like raising your kids. You want them to grow up having a good knowledge-base they can expand on, so more opportunities will be available to them later on."