SCHOFIELD BARRACKS - Ask anyone in Army recruiting or retention, and they\'ll tell you there is never an "off" day.

Career counselors must be ready at all times to "strike while the iron is hot" and re-enlist a Soldier, in order to achieve the mission and contribute to the overall readiness of the force.

To recognize the hard work career counselors do day in and day out, the 8th Theater Sustainment Command (TSC) named its top career counselor, following a selection board, here, Oct. 21.

"This was the first Career Counselor of the Year board we've held at the 8th TSC," said Sgt. Maj. Brad McDonell, command career counselor, 8th TSC. "Our (noncommissioned officers) work hard to counsel Soldiers on the benefits of 'staying Army,' and the results have been fantastic."

Sgt. 1st Class Luis Sanchez, 45th Sustainment Brigade; Sgt. 1st Class Allen Runyon, 728th Military Police Battalion; and Sgt. 1st Class Derek Scott, 8th Special Troops Bn., took part in the competition.

Each noncommissioned officer (NCO) had to demonstrate knowledge in areas such as active duty and reserve component retention programs, current events and military programs. The counselors were evaluated on their confidence level, military appearance and ability to articulate their individual knowledge.

After the scores were tallied, the board declared Sanchez the winner, earning him the title of 8th TSC Career Counselor of the Year for 2009.

"I got into this competition to represent my unit," said Sanchez, a former recruiting station commander. "It's a huge honor for me personally to be named as Career Counselor of the Year."

Sanchez, a 17-year veteran, began his Army career as a logistics specialist and was detailed as a recruiter in 2001. He converted his military occupational specialty (MOS) to become a career recruiter in 2003, earned his Recruiting Ring for outstanding job performance, served as a recruiting station commander, and now serves as a career counselor. He's seen many changes in recruiting and retention during the past eight years.

"The biggest difference I see is that Soldiers are enlisting and re-enlisting in the Army because of patriotism," Sanchez said. "Soldiers that join and stay in today's Army know what they are getting into, and it's a great feeling for me when we can keep them on the Army team."

Sanchez and the 8th TSC retention team organized a mass re-enlistment aboard the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor, Oct. 1, re-enlisting 50 Soldiers on the historic battleship. That event got the new fiscal year off to a flying start for the retention team.

"(Sanchez) played a big part in getting the event set up, ensuring the Soldiers' paperwork was ready, and executing the event," McDonell said. "I was extremely pleased with how the event turned out."

Sanchez now moves on to take part in the U.S. Army-Pacific Retention NCO competition in January, with the hopes of moving on to the Department of the Army competition in early 2010.