Staff Sgt. Gabriel Franco-Heredia, 114th Signal Battalion & 55th COMCAM poses for a picture with US Congressman and Maj. Gen. Trent Kelly, a Maj. of the Mississippi National Guard.
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Staff Sgt. Gabriel Franco-Heredia poses in front of a mural at the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon.
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Staff Sgt. Gabriel Franco-Heredia from the 114th Signal Battalion, 21st Signal Brigade at Fort Detrick, MD represented 7th Signal Command (Theater) at the Department of the Army FY22 Career Counselor of the Year (CCOY) competition in Washington D.C. March 28- April 1.

The competition consisted of several events including a 50 question written exam on knowledge of the Army Retention Program and Army Retention Program Procedures and a military occupational specialty mystery task listed on the 79S MOS critical task list in the central Army registry web site.

“On this event I had to conduct a quality control check on a re-enlistment packet to make sure it had zero errors in order for it to be processed and confirmed” said Franco-Heredia.

All tasks were heavily focused on testing a career counselor's knowledge and understanding of current and future retention policies and regulations.

The last event was a formal board which consisted of four Sergeants Major and one Lieutenant Colonel - asking each Soldier at least three questions. While Staff Sgt. Franco-Heredia did not come out at the top of the competition he said the experience itself will provide him lasting lessons he will use throughout his Army career.

“This competition helped me as a leader because I gained more knowledge of the Army Retention Program and it will definitely help me better my retention program in the 114th Signal Battalion,” said Franco Heredia. “This competition also helped me network with other career counselors and senior leaders in the career counselor field.”

Master Sgt. DeMar A. Bowman, Senior Career Counselor, 21st Signal Brigade, 7th Signal Command (Theater) was Staff Sgt. Franco-Heredia’s sponsor during the process and said he performed admirably throughout the entire process.

“He worked hard and proudly represented our command through his performance at the career counselor of the year board,” said Bowman. “During the competition he attended a couple of key leader engagements with the Sergeant Major of the Army, Army Chief of Staff and members of Congress. It was an amazing experience for any Soldier to compete at this level especially given the abundance of interaction with the best of his peers, senior leaders of our field and Congress.”

SSG Franco was recently selected to attend Officer Candidate School and while he didn’t win the top prize, 7th Signal Command (Theater) is proud of his selection and the direction of his future.