January 26, 2017 –
Career counselors from across U.S. Army Pacific Theater of operations gathered at Fort Shafter to represent their commands in a competition for USARPAC Career Counselor of the Year.
The intense three-day competition held January 25-27 was decided from scoring three events to include the Army Physical Fitness Test, a written examination, and a board appearance.
USARPAC's Command Career Counselor, Sgt. Maj. Christopher S. Richardson, who oversaw the U.S. Army Pacific's Career Counselor of the Year competition, said that all those Soldiers who made it to the USARPAC competition already established themselves as great career counselors. He stated that their job at this level was to pick the best one to compete against the other Army commands in next month's competition.
USARPAC Commanding General, Gen. Robert Brown congratulated all the competitors before recognizing U.S. Army Alaska Career Counselor, Sgt. 1st Class Raul Lopez, and Reserve Component Career Counselor, Sgt. 1st Class Chad Emrick.
Lopez, a U.S. Army Alaska career counselor with 4th Brigade, 25th Armored Brigade Combat Team, Fort Richardson, won the USARPAC active component award.
"The competition was very tough," said Lopez. "All the competitors - you know you're facing the best of the best - representing their individual commands, so you know you're facing some tough competition coming into the Career Counselor of the Year board."
Lopez, who hails from Dallas, Texas, is proud of the fact that he is the first member of his family to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces and is a couple years shy of two decades of service in the Army. He got to this point in the service-wide Career Counselor competition by competing in several written exams and boards beforehand. Because Army retention regulations and standards are repeatedly adjusted, by competing in such exams and boards Lopez is able to hone his skills and keep his knowledge up-to-date in his career field.
USARPAC reserve component award Career Counselor of the Year winner, Emrick, calls Vienna, West Virginia, home, comes from a family with a long history of service; his grandfather served the Army in Korea, two uncles served both the Navy and Marine Corps in World War I, and another Uncle also served the Army in Vietnam.
"We're required to put forth quality, and not so much quantity," said Emrick. "I think that's the key to the United States Army ... is the quality of the individuals that we have. You will not find a fighting force in the world that has as high a quality of individual as we do in America's [Army]."
These winners are just two of many career counselors from across the force who are routinely challenged to work to retain or increase the size of the force by highlighting options like duty station of choice, reclassification and bonuses to interested Soldiers. While such options are available, they are limited only to those Soldiers who qualify.
"The Army is hiring and must retain resilient, fit Soldiers of character," said Sergeant Major of the Army, Daniel Dailey, in an email to the force earlier this month. "The Active Component retention mission has more than doubled and will require enthusiastic involvement of leaders at all levels in coordination with their career counselors to be successful."
Lopez and Emrick will represent USARPAC next month when they go to Washington DC to compete in the Secretary of the Army’s Career Counselor of the Year competition being held February 26 to March 2.
"In the last three, four years a winner [in the Career Counselor of the Year competition], whether with the active component or reserve component, has come from USARPAC," said Richardson. "So I think we have a pretty good angle on how to select them and I think this year we have selected the two finest ones that we can put forward."