Army Reserve career counselors excel in challenging mission through teamwork

By Maj. John MayJuly 3, 2024

Army Reserve career counselors excel in challenging mission through teamwork
U.S. Army Reserve career counselors assigned to Area 2, 4th Battalion, United States Army Reserve Careers Group were awarded silver Mission Excellence Medallions June 14 at Wilmington, N.C. They earned the silver medallions by meeting the mission requirements for Inactive Ready Reserve to Active-Reserve transfers for the first two quarters in fiscal year 2024. (Courtesy Photo) (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The leaders of 4th Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve Careers Group established a new incentive for career counselors for the fiscal year 2024 Individual Ready Reserve Mission, and one battalion area already hit the year’s mark for the new incentive in the first two quarters.

Starting in the new fiscal year, October of 2024, and for each quarter, Army Reserve career counselors in an area who hit the required number of Individual Ready Reserve transfers to the Army Reserve will earn a Mission Excellence Medallion. For up to three quarters of the year that they hit the IRR mission goal, they’ll be recognized each quarter with a bronze, silver, and gold medallion respectively.

Additionally, and even more enticing, each medallion has a portion of the Career Counselor Creed on it, so for a career counselor to have a complete creed, all three medallions must be earned.

“The medallions were created to promote achieving a team goal and remove the individual award recognition for meeting a standard,” said Sgt. Maj. Bonnie Barr, the 4th Battalion ARCG senior enlisted advisor. “The idea is to encourage a team-mentality through this award so that the entire team shares in the success."

Army Reserve career counselors in Area 2, which covers southern Kentucky, central and western Tennessee, met their IRR mission requirements in the first and second quarters, earning the bronze and silver medallions. They just missed earning the gold medallion in third quarter, but they are confident they will complete the medallion set in the fourth.

“We would have hit these numbers without the medallions because of our loyalty to the mission and camaraderie, but there was extra motivation to earn the medallions,” said Master Sgt. Christina Ison, Army Reserve career counselor and Area 2 leader. “We were so close to getting that third and final medallion at the end of third quarter, but we are prepared to step up and get it in fourth quarter.”

Barr said she knew at the beginning of the fiscal year that Area 2 was completely dedicated to their IRR mission and very motivated to earn the medallions. They are very competitive and a cohesive team, which is why they are currently the best-performing area in the battalion.

For the career counselors of Area 2 embracing a team approach has helped guide their success in what has traditionally been perceived as an individual mission.

“The IRR mission is an individually challenging mission, for a long time we were forced to do it on our own,” said Sgt. 1st Class Chasity Wathen, Army Reserve career counselor assigned to Area 2. “Adapting a team-mentality and using the knowledge of team members makes each individual career counselor more successful with the IRR mission and makes the job more enjoyable.”

The career counselors in Area 2 have found some approaches to overcome the challenges to getting a Soldier to transfer from the IRR to active-reserve status.

“We focus on getting to know the Soldier as much as possible,” said Wathen. “We meet at a location convenient to them and ask them questions to get to know them and find out how going from IRR to active-reserve status might benefit them.”

Wathen said they meet with IRR soldiers as a team of two whenever possible, and this helps build rapport with the Soldiers and provide the best information possible about the benefits of the Army Reserve.

Embracing the team concept as a career counselor is not always natural, but doing so leads to more success and provides better support for Soldiers.

“Trusting your teammates is important, which can be challenging in the career counselor field since it is so competitive,” said Sgt. 1st Class Kester Joyner, Army Reserve career counselor assigned to Area 2. “It is important to remember team contributions are just as important as individual numbers you get credit for as a career counselor.”