CAMP HENRY, Republic of Korea -- The awards she accepted from Lt. Gen. Bill Burleson, commanding general, Eighth Army, recognized her team's retention efforts that were among the best in Korea, but they didn't change the primary focus of Sgt. 1st Class Samantha Recker's work.
"It makes me proud, I am honored to be part of this team, but I didn't do it -- my team did it," Recker said during a recent recording of the Every Soldier Counts Podcast. "Without my team I wouldn't have gotten anything, we wouldn't have these awards to show off.
Recker's team includes career counselors and retention NCOs assigned to 19th ESC units across the Korean Peninsula. While Team 19 Retention is tasked by Eighth Army and the Department of the Army with retaining quality Soldiers, its career counselors also act as experts to help Soldiers achieve their career ambitions.
"It's great we accomplished our mission, but at the end of the day if we take care of our Soldiers -- the mission will take care of itself," said Recker. "So though getting these awards are amazing, they feel great. At the end of the day all I care about is taking care of these Soldiers, and that's what my team cares about."
Taking care of Soldiers often means counseling them on how they can extend a tour in Korea, but it can also include educating leaders and Soldiers on new Army initiatives or opportunities. One of these opportunities Recker is passionate about is Army Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL), a website designed to assist Soldiers in gaining credentials that can enhance their military or post-military career. Recker has found Soldiers are often unaware of critical career-boosting programs such as COOL.
"If you have any questions that has to do with your career, go see your servicing career counselor, they can square you away -- you just have to make the first move by entering their door," said Recker.
Walking inside the 19th ESC Retention office will also bring you face-to-face with several awards their career counselors have earned over the years. The newest awards were presented at Eighth Army Headquarters on February 2, honored 19th ESC as achieving 100 percent retention mission success in all categories during Fiscal Year 2021. The timing of the awards was noteworthy, because they were presented just days before another significant milestone for Recker's retention team.
"We had just received our awards for last FY, and two days after receiving those awards we had already completed our FY22 mission," said Recker.
"At the end of the day, if I didn't get an award, but I could look in the mirror and say I took care of every single Soldier that walked in my office," Recker said. "I would give those awards back if I had to -- but I'm gonna take care of those Soldiers and so will my team."
The Every Soldier Counts Podcast is available anywhere you find podcasts.