When did you join the military and why?
I joined the Active Army in August of 1996 as a UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter Crew-Chief. I grew up in a small farm community in Geneseo Illinois and I wanted to get out to see the world. I knew that the technical and life skills I would learn in the Army would translate towards a civilian career and as well as help me prepare for and pay for college. Like many, I did it partly to get away, partly for the adventure, and mostly to serve my country and gain money for college.
What was your MOS before being a Career Counselor? Why did you stop performing this/these MOS and choose the path of a career counselor?
Prior to becoming a Career Counselor I was a Drill Sergeant with the 100th Div. I decided to become a Career Counselor as the next natural choice to shape my career. After training, mentoring, and leading young Soldiers as they entered the Army I was ready to take it to another level and help out all Soldiers in every aspect of their lives, not just the Army. I felt like I had a diverse enough career and had a lot of experience and advice to impart on Soldier. I truly did feel like this was the perfect job for me.
What made you decide to become a Career Counselor?
I feel like it is the #1 position in which you can make a dramatic impact on Soldiers lives every day in very profound ways.
How long have you been a career counselor?
I have been working in the field since the summer of 2005. And had the opportunity to serve my fellow deployed Soldiers working in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait as a Career Counselor in Theater (2008-09).
What do you enjoy the most as a career counselor?
I like finding the ‘Right’ Answers for Soldiers. Doing the hard work to really help someone out is the truly gratifying experience in this field that we are often reminded about through feedback from our Soldiers; often years down the road.
How did you get to where you are right now – concerning being named the Secretary of the Army, Army Reserve Career Counselor of the Year – What kind of competition did you participate in to get to the Secretary of the Army level competition?
Honestly, I have had the privilege to work for and with great people who truly care about Soldiers. Without the support group that we have in regards to working together and sharing information I would not be the same person I am today and certainly not the winner of the competition. The preparation for this level did take a number of years (in my case). I competed at the Battalion level in 2006 and lost, I went back in 2007 and won for the Battalion and competed in this very competition and lost. So after my deployment I came back and was lucky enough to win again at the Battalion levelcome out on top among a stellar group of performers.
Obviously you did great during the competition here at Atlanta, but during the actual competition how did you think you were doing? Did you have any worries or concerns throughout the competition? If so, what were they and how did you deal with those concerns?
During the competition I think everyone second guessed themselves especially due to the secretiveness of it. You never really knew how you were ranking against the other competitors and you were left guessing at how well you may stack up. I personally felt that there were a few portions that I did poorly on and had to focus on forgetting what we had already done and concentrating on what was coming up. My number 1 asset during the events was prayer. It helped me center myself and perhaps gain a spiritual lift from it.
Looking back at where you are now and where you were when you were just beginning your time with the Army, would you ever expect to have taken the path you have?
I can’t say that I would have planned it this way. Initially I, like many Soldiers, really wanted to do my time in the Army and get out and go to school. But an interesting thing happens in the Army and it happens to everyone: It becomes a part of you. The Army became a huge part of my life and I know that it needed me and I certainly needed it. I’m extremely glad that I have been blessed with amazing leaders and mentors in my life and my career that always went above and beyond to make sure I was taken care of. I want to be that person to my Soldiers.
How has this competition made you a better Soldier and career counselor?
There is no doubt that any competition will help make a better Soldier. I know that had we all not had this competition coming up we wouldn’t have spent nearly as many hours in the books, regulations, and the field preparing. These types of events always push a Soldier harder to learn more and become a better Soldier than you currently are. I feel like my knowledge base is definitely increased and my all around Soldiering skills are that much better because of the competition.
Do you think winning this competition will help you be a better career counselor? Why or why not?
Well I know that it certainly won’t hurt, of course I think it will. Inherently people want to live up to their title and for me a little pride will play into it I’m sure. Because I was named the 2010 AR Career Counselor of the year I want to do my utmost to provide that kind of counseling and leadership to the Soldiers I work around. To do less would forsake my responsibilities and cheapen all those that competed so vigorously with me.
Anything else you would like to add or you think would be of interest?
I would like to take the opportunity to thank my beautiful new wife who has been so very supportive and giving of her time and efforts to help me prepare. We were married three weeks prior to the competition and she never once let me forget to study or work out. Even during our two week honeymoon (ending one week before the competition began) she helped me allot time to study and exercise during the day between all of our activities.