By: Sgt. 1st Class Kelli M. Harr
With the National Capitol Reenlistment Ceremony just a few months away, many Soldiers are considering their options when it comes to reenlisting and reflecting on why they enlisted in the first place. Making a commitment to serve your country is not easy to come by. Some join because they want a chance to travel and see the world. Others proudly wear a service uniform to carry on a family legacy. Despite what the reason may be, it is always life changing.
Twenty-nine years ago, Command Sergeant Major Steven Villa, CSM of the Army Reserve Careers Division, made the life-changing decision to serve his country, but not before appeasing his mom with two years of college.
“I didn’t want to attend college but my mom wanted me too, so I did it for her,” he said. “I went to North Georgia College for two years before deciding it wasn’t for me.”
CSM Villa’s father, a retired colonel with 33 years of service, was a major influence on his decision to join the Army. “I was raised in an Army environment where my dad felt every able body person was responsible for serving their country,” he said. While his father was a decorated commissioned officer, CSM Villa sought an enlisted career path as he moved through the ranks. “My father was very proud of me being enlisted and as a senior officer, he understood the demands of what it takes to be a CSM,” he remembered. “He told me only two people in the Army wear a star: a General and a CSM.”
After serving on active duty for four years, CSM Villa left the military to pursue a civilian business in Hawaii. Shortly thereafter, he began to miss the discipline he’d learned the previous four years and joined the Army Reserve as an 11B, Infantryman.
As an 11B, CSM Villa learned to take orders and do what was asked without question. “I was a typical 11B,” he stated. “I followed the standard and did what I was told but I also learned that not everything is simple as black and white. You have to look at each situation individually and then react.”
While maneuvering through the enlisted ranks of the Army, CSM Villa never really focused on becoming what he is today. “I didn’t think about being a CSM while serving,” he noted. “You never really think about the end of your career and that’s how I viewed being a CSM. Short term goals were always what I went after.”
One of the most important attributes CSM Villa has learned during his military career is how to take care of Soldiers. He accredits both his father and CSM Nancy E. Simmons in mentoring him to become a successful leader. They taught him to ask what Soldiers want to do with their careers and aid them in meeting expectations.
“We have to care about being NCO’s. Live and believe in the NCO Creed,” said CSM Villa. “Soldiers will trust you and have confidence in you as a leader.”
A Soldier’s commitment to their country is an enormous sacrifice not only for them but for their Families as well. Remembering to thank your Soldiers for serving is essential to become an influential leader. According to CSM Villa, the NCRC is a positive way to showcase the Army Reserve Soldiers who choose to reenlist and emphasize not only their sacrifice but the sacrifices made by their Families.
“The NCRC is a great opportunity for us to say thank you to our Soldiers and Families and let them know just how much they are appreciated,” added CSM Villa. “They each have a story that significantly impacts the Army Reserve. This is a way for their story to be heard.”