Fort Stewart, Ga.- For Corporal Joseph Casarez, joining the Army was something he always wanted to do.

As a child, he dreamed of following in his Family's footsteps and serving his nation with pride. His uncles served in the Navy, his grandfather is a retired Soldier, and Cpl. Casarez said he couldn't wait for the day he'd lace up a pair of his own combat boots.

"(My Family) sort of pushed me to join the Army," Cpl. Casarez said. "They pushed me to where I am today."

The Springfield, Ore., native fulfilled his long-awaited dream and enlisted into the Army as a cavalry scout on Feb. 27, 2007. He became a Dog Face Soldier shortly thereafter.

"(I am) very proud to be cavalry scout because there is no other (military occupational specialty) that's got so much pride, tradition and heritage," Cpl. Casarez said, who currently serves with Troop B, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Today, Cpl. Casarez is not only representing his Family as a proud servicemember, but he also represents the entire Marne Division as he was named the 2009 3rd Infantry Division Soldier of the Year, June 12.

Corporal Casarez said training for the Division-level Soldier of the Year board was no easy task, and preparing for the competition involved help from his fellow Soldiers and leaders. He said Soldiers within his platoon would throw practice questions at him daily.

"There is no better person to challenge you than your own platoon brother," said Sgt. David Hamonn, Cpl. Casarez' section sergeant who also pitched the new 3rd ID Soldier of the Year some helpful board tips.

"Corporal Casarez is a very squared away Soldier," Sgt. Hamonn continued. "You get book-smart Soldiers and you get field-smart Soldiers, and Cpl. Casarez lands right in the middle. He puts his work before himself. He is there for everyone and everybody."

The Soldier of the Year credits his leaders, like Sgt. Hamonn, for his success.

"It was noncommissioned officers who shaped me to be the Soldier I am today," Cpl. Casarez said. "A lot of people are looking up to me, and a lot of people are looking at me, so I've got to make sure that I know what I'm doing and that I'm always doing the right thing."

Corporal Casarez said he will continue to study and prepare for the next step in his military career - the Forces Command Soldier of the Year competition slated for late July.