FORT POLK, La. — Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital held its Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the year competition April 15. Competitors participated in a series of rigorous events including a 12-mile foot march, water survival tests, written essay, uniform inspection and appeared before a board of senior NCOs from BJACH.
The challengers, two NCOs and three Soldiers representing the behavioral health or surgical departments from the hospital, participated in a full day of difficult physical and mental tasks that began before dawn.
First Sgt. James Buchanan said the criteria to compete began with winning local monthly and quarterly boards with the winners moving forward to Regional Health Command-Central’s Best Leader Competition May 9-14 at Fort Hood, Texas.
“The competition was tough,” he said. “There was a solid group of Soldiers and NCOs out there, each one an excellent representative of our organization.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Alexander Poutou said that Soldiers and NCOs who participate in these competitions go above and beyond the standard and participate in addition to their normal day-to-day duties.
“We have a lot of good Soldiers at BJACH and these Soldiers and NCOs put themselves out there to compete to be the best,” he said. “Events like this focuses on physical fitness along with warrior tasks and drills. These individuals have set themselves apart from the team.”
The winners were announced in a small ceremony at BJACH April 20. Sgt. Jesus Gil, behavior health specialist, won the title of NCO of the Year. Spc. Vanessa Mundell, surgical technician, won the title of Soldier of the Year and will represent the organization at the regional Best Leader competition next month.
“It feels great to be selected as the BJACH NCO of the year,” said Gil. “I’ve been working toward this for the past three years. All of the time training and studying has paid off.”
Gil said the competition was rigorous and will prepare the team moving forward. With an upcoming permanent change of station he will not represent BJACH at the next level, but he believes the competition at Fort Polk will give the team an idea of what to expect.
“My advice to my peers is to keep training,” he said. “Use the resiliency skills we are taught in the Army. Maintain positive thoughts and focus on accomplishing the mission and winning the competition for BJACH.”
Spc. Vanessa Mundell said she plans to continue working on her fitness level not only to improve her Army Combat Fitness Test scores, but her foot marching abilities.
“It feels great to be able to represent the enlisted Soldiers at BJACH,” she said. “I’m a competitor at heart and cannot wait for the opportunity to demonstrate my strength as a U.S. Soldier.”
First Lt. Leonard Soriano, 1st Sgt. James Buchanan, Sgt. Edgardo Rosario and Spc. Vanessa Mundell will represent BJACH at the regional competition in May.
“I am looking forward to going to Fort Hood next month,” Mundell said. “Not many Soldiers have the opportunity to attend competitions at the regional level. I look forward to the challenge and the competition. I am excited to see what I am able to accomplish.”