Hello! I’m Sgt. 1st Class Leslie Beltran and I am an Army Reserve Career Counselor (ARCC). In a nut shell I had my 18th birthday in Basic Training at Ft Jackson, South Carolina. I have been in the Army since I graduated high school starting as an Active Duty Soldier, to Army Reserve Soldier, Individual Ready Reserve Soldier and now I’m AGR. I started my very first AGR tour as an ARCC in August 2009 and I love it. It is challenging in so many ways, but I love a challenge and I’m very competitive so it’s right up my alley. I have to admit that when I was first informed that I would be one of our region’s bloggers, I had no idea what that was or what was involved in being a “blogger”. Even though it was more of a demand than a request and being the competitive and adventurous person that I am, I said “ok” and then asked “what’s a blogger”. I was told I would be taking pictures at unit events and training plus writing stories to go along with the pictures – “kind of like Facebook” I was told. Well, that sounded cool to me because I’m familiar with Facebook, I’m always taking pictures, and I love to write. During the one day blogging class in Atlanta, I began to realize the extent of the challenge. Personally, I think it’s a great tool that can be used to reach out to Soldiers and Soldiers’ families and other Career Counselors. It is a sign of the times I believe and a great opportunity to communicate using a method that has become very familiar and popular to most everyone in society. There are great Soldiers in the Army Reserves and in the Individual Ready Reserve and I’m sure there are many great stories to be told. This in itself can help to build camaraderie and friendships and create a sense of belonging with something familiar. Obviously, being a Career Counselor I can look at blogging as a Retention tool as well. It is a means of passing along information to many Soldiers in mass numbers in regard to benefits, incentives and opportunities. Not to mention it is a means for fellow Soldiers to comment on how they have benefitted from their Army Reserve service and possibly a way of reconnecting with past fellow Soldiers. It is an actual testimony from Soldiers to Soldiers and their families. There are misconceptions that can be addressed as I’m sure there will also be negative remarks from Soldiers that have had bad experiences. Furthermore, it can show the fun or adventurous aspect of the Army Reserve by creating blogs focused around training – blogs that are not performed or rehearsed but that are real. This can show that yes we are Soldiers trained to be uniform, fit, disciplined, courageous and strong, but it will also show the human side of the Soldier that struggles to accomplish all that is expected while remaining confident. Families of Soldiers and Soldiers can view this and pull strength and support from one another. Finally, as a Career Counselor, Leader and Soldier, I welcome any attempt to reach out and provide other Soldiers with information and opportunities that can give them a better quality of life with lots of options.