BY EXAMPLE

Keeping all forces strong
It’s Sgt. 1st Class Dawna Brown’s job to counsel Soldiers — all day, every day — as a career counselor
Sgt. 1st Class Dawna Brown has served on active duty, in the Army Reserve and in the National Guard. She is currently a career counselor at Fort Carson, Colo., and helps Soldiers transition from active duty to the Reserve. Brown joined the Army in March 2001 after working in sales and as a part-time cosmotologist in western Pennsylvania. Why have you continued to serve as an NCO? My job is what I like most about the military. I like talking with Soldiers; I like helping them out. A lot of Soldiers who come to me don’t have a plan and have only been in for a couple of years. They think they’re going to get this big-paying job when they separate, but they haven’t planned for it or really don’t have the training. So I give them direction and guidance. How does your job impact the big Army? It keeps all the forces strong. With the Soldiers I see, sometimes I send them back to active duty, and they re-enlist there. The Reserve, they are still staying strong, and I’m helping to put people in there. The slots are so limited in the Reserve and National Guard, so we have to screen people well. If a Soldier isn’t running fast enough or shooting fast enough, it’s all going to affect them and their opportunities down the line. What’s challenging about your job? When Soldiers come to me, they’ve talked to their whole command about re-enlistment. You have to listen to them. It’s not about you; it’s about them. They all have a reason — and usually it’s not the military — why they’re getting out. Most Soldiers, if you really listen and talk to them, aren’t getting out because they don’t like the Army. It’s usually always something else that you can work through. What advice do you have for other NCOs? As NCOs, we have to be there for Soldiers. We can’t leave it up to the first sergeants or the commanders. We, the first-line leaders, have to talk to these Soldiers and get to know them on an individual level — not just what their job is. How do you lead Soldiers? It takes being the example. If you’re out in front of people, you have to live it every day. You can’t take the easy road, because you’re being watched by younger Soldiers. You always have to be an example. We have

to take care of Soldiers. Someone’s going to replace us, so we have to take care of them and train them. In my job, the ones I train have to help the ones who are the best to re-enlist. What promotion or career advice do you have for junior Soldiers? They have to look more outside the military, and they have to get civilian education as well. We all have a job, and we’re all expected to do it well. That alone is not going to put you among the best to get promoted; deployments and things of that nature, that’s still part of us being a Soldier. So you have to do something that will be recognized — whether it’s competitions or going ahead with more military training and civilian education than is expected of your rank. Who is an example of a Soldier you mentored? There was a girl I recruited back in 2006; I still talk with her today. At the time, she couldn’t meet the standards to get into the military; she was overweight. She wanted to be a Soldier so much, but she wasn’t there. So I took her to the gym every day, even when it wasn’t pleasant for me to go. And finally, she made it, and she’s an officer today.
— INTERVIEW BY JENNIFER MATTSON

 Sgt. 1st Class Dawna Brown conducts career counseling April 30 in her office at Fort Carson, Colo.
PHOTO BY JENNIFER MATTSON

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