Easy. Laidback. Perks. Those are just a few words that some Soldiers use to describe what they think of Army Reserve Career Counselors, until they actually become one.
SFC Craig Ivery, a competitor from Region 4, used to be one of those Soldiers who thought being an ARCC was a simple job. “As the PS NCO in an office near the ARCCs, I thought they had it made”, he remembered. “All of the ARCCs had their own office, government vehicles and always seemed to be out of the office. But once I started working as a Career Counselor I realized just how challenging the job is.”
A Career Counselor is an advisor and leader to all Soldiers. Their duties include counseling, mentoring and coaching Soldiers on their military careers, civilian education and benefits within the Army Reserve. Gone are the days where a Career Counselor focuses just on reenlistment contracts and extensions. Now, Career Counselors are living up to their titles.
One of the most challenging aspects of being a Career Counselor is transferring soldiers from the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) to a Reserve unit. Career Counselors are required to complete a specific number of contracts annually, based on their local IRR population.
“I just try to stay positive to my Soldiers and let them know I am for real,” states SFC Lourdes Whitener, a competitor from Region 3. She also added that presenting yourself with a positive attitude will help in succeeding at making mission.
Another challenge to being a Career Counselor, according to SFC Sean Parker, a competitor from Region 10, is convincing units to elevate their current training levels to make it more exciting and relevant to Soldiers. “Enhanced training is what really makes Soldiers reenlist and continue their service.”
During a Battle Assembly weekend, Career Counselors can be found advising Soldiers on education benefits, military schools, reenlistment options and assist in locating civilian employment opportunities.
“Soldiers believe what their Career Counselor says, even if it’s an informal conversation next to the water fountain,” said SFC Ivery. “What you say to a Soldier has a major impact on their life and the lives of their family members.”
So to those who think just anyone can be a Career Counselor, think again. These Noncommissioned officers possess the traits and characteristics of the top NCOs in the Army Reserve.