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Face of Defense: Career Counselor Continues Mission in Iraq

By Army Spc. Maurice A. Galloway
Special to American Forces Press Service

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq, Dec. 31, 2009 – Army Staff Sgt. Brain K. Pascual likes to get out and tell soldiers about their re-enlistment options as part of his work as a career counselor in Iraq.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Staff Sgt. Brian K. Pascual, career counselor, discusses career options with Army Spc. Devin D. Lowder. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Maurice A. Galloway

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Assigned to the 308th Brigade Support Battalion, 17th Fires Brigade, Pascual is one of 70 Army career counselors deployed throughout Multinational Force Iraq.

The Waipahu, Hawaii, native has met his retention goals for the 2009 fiscal year.

Pascual has “a real passion for his job and truly exemplifies the Army values,” said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph E. Santos, 17th Fires Brigade’s senior noncommissioned officer. “We couldn’t be more proud of him and all of the effort that he has shown since he’s been with us.”

The Fort Lewis, Wash.-based brigade has led all units on post in retaining soldiers for the past three years, and it shows no sign of slowing while deployed to Basra, Iraq.

“Sergeant Pascual has done a great job for us,” said Senior Career Counselor Army Master Sgt. Jason A. Koutsalas. “It’s very rare that you find someone that has a genuine compassion for soldiers and their families compiled with a tremendous work ethic like him.”

Career counselors like Pascual receive directives from the Department of the Army Headquarters informing them of specifications and monetary incentives for soldiers eligible to re-enlist in this all-volunteer Army.

Counselors then market the Army to eligible candidates throughout their unit in trying to meet the needs of the soldier as well as the retention requirements of the Army.

After meeting with soldiers and gaining an assessment of what it would take to gain their continued service, Pascual then correlates the soldier’s request with the incentives offered for the fiscal re-enlistment year and drafts a custom contract.

“Soldiers are the driving force of this Army; it’s their service that astonishes me, because they don’t have to stay, but yet time after time I listen to people and they tell me that there is nothing else they’d rather do,” Pascual said.

Pascual’s success has earned a nomination to compete in the Secretary of the Army Career Counselor of the Year Competition in Washington, D.C., Jan. 18.

“The hardest thing for me is being the center of attention, because I know that nothing is accomplished alone,” Pascual said. “I feel that if I’m being recognized, then my whole team should be as well. So I’m not only representing myself, I’ve been selected to represent our entire brigade.”

(Army Spc. Maurice A. Galloway serves with the 17th Fires Brigade Public Affairs Office.)

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Multinational Corps Iraq

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