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Face of Defense: Reserve Sailor Excels in Recruiting America's Best

Sept. 15, 2017 | BY Navy Recruiting Command
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Anyone who knows Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Thomas, a master-at-arms and recruiter assigned to Navy Recruiting District San Antonio, knows he is not afraid to talk to people -- unless he has to talk about himself. This humility has served him well in both his military and civilian careers.

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Thomas, a master-at-arms and recruiter assigned to Navy Recruiting District San Antonio, speaks with future sailor Aaron Sandoval
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Thomas, a master-at-arms and recruiter assigned to Navy Recruiting District San Antonio, speaks with future sailor Aaron Sandoval at the Military Entrance Processing Station in San Antonio, Aug. 10, 2017. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Giselle Christmas
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Thomas, a master-at-arms and recruiter assigned to Navy Recruiting District San Antonio, speaks with future sailor Aaron Sandoval
Reserve Recruiter advances to First Class
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Thomas, a master-at-arms and recruiter assigned to Navy Recruiting District San Antonio, speaks with future sailor Aaron Sandoval at the Military Entrance Processing Station in San Antonio, Aug. 10, 2017. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Giselle Christmas
Photo By: Petty Officer 2nd Class Giselle Christmas
VIRIN: 170810-N-F1539-181

In 2003, Thomas joined the Navy, a decision he attributes to not having much as a kid growing up here.

“I came from a low-income household, so I knew the Navy would be the only way I would be able to afford college and maybe someday fulfill my childhood dream of becoming a police officer,” he said.

Varied Career

Thomas is a man of few words when broached with the topic of his personal life, but a sailor who has worn so many hats has a lot to tell. During his first tour in Bahrain aboard the USS Tarawa, he apprenticed as a corpsman, but when he had an opportunity to attend master-at-arms school, he decided to change his rate.

Thomas said working as a master-at-arms gave him the experience he would need later when he became a Texas state police officer.

“Being a [master-at-arms gave me the opportunity to train as a K-9 handler and a jailer, so I now have my K-9 and jailers’ licenses for the state,” he explained.

In 2007, Thomas left active duty and decided to join the Navy Reserve; it was during this time that he also went through the rigorous training to become a civilian police officer.

After eight years as a police officer and Navy reservist, he decided to enter the Canvasser Recruiter program.

A consummate professional, Thomas routinely utilizes his years of practical experience in law enforcement to help the command's anti-terrorism and force protection planning and execution, ensuring the safety of all hands.

“Thomas is an exemplary and professional sailor with an incomparable work ethic,” said Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Reynolds, the commander of Navy Recruiting District San Antonio. “He represents the very best that a sailor can be, is an outstanding Navy ambassador in the local community, and is an indispensable asset to my command.”

Canvasser Recruiter Program

The Canvasser Recruiter program is a temporary recall program designed for eligible sailors to join the Navy’s recruiting force.

Recruiters are the face of the Navy to the civilian world and connect qualified individuals with careers in 72 ratings within the active and reserve components.

As a recruiter, Thomas said he feels he has been given an opportunity to give back to the Navy that has served him so well throughout his career.

“I enjoy working as a police officer and enjoyed my time as a [master-at-arms], but I have no regrets about switching over to recruiting,” he explained. “In recruiting, I have been able to connect with people in a different way that can change their lives for the better.”

While recruiting seems to have come easily to Thomas, he admits that it has been a difficult journey at times.

“It is not a job everyone can do, you have to be willing to put yourself out there and shake hands with new people every day,” he said. “I had to learn to pay attention to detail and be willing to learn from my mistakes.”

Work-Life Balance

Frequently, recruiters will point to how difficult it can be in finding a balance.

Thomas is no different, he admits; he had to learn to juggle work, family life and school.

“I have an associate’s degree in criminal justice and I’m currently attending the University of the Incarnate Word working towards a bachelor’s degree. If not for my wife, who supports me and helps take the brunt of the family responsibilities, I would not be able to get it all done.”

With the bravery of a master-at-arms, Thomas has faced the challenges of recruiting. His tenacity was recognized by his leaders, and in June he was promoted to the rank of petty officer first class through the Meritorious Advancement Program.

Through MAP, sailors may be promoted based on their readiness to take on the next level of responsibility and not solely on their advancement exam scores.

“I was so surprised to be MAPped,” Thomas said. “I have taken the exam many times, so it was such a great feeling to have my hard work recognized this way.”

Looking towards the future, Thomas plans to complete his degree and submit a package to convert to the Full Time Support Navy Career Recruiting Force program and ultimately hopes to advance to chief petty officer.

The NCRF program is made up of a group of enlisted Navy production recruiters and recruiting managers who provide stability and leadership for field production recruiters and recruiting management personnel. Enlisted sailors can laterally convert from the Canvasser Recruiter program to the Full Time Support program.

For more information on Navy recruiting and MAP, visit: http://www.navy.mil.