WIESBADEN, Germany — After two days of competition among the best career counselors and retention advisors in U.S. Army Europe, the top noncommissioned officers in each category were named, Dec. 15, 2015.
Sgt. 1st Class Tolo Gbassage, a career counselor assigned to 16th Sustainment Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, based in Grafenwoehr, Germany, has earned the title of the 2015 U.S. Army Europe Career Counselor of the year.
Staff Sgt. Keviann McKelvy, assigned to U.S. Army Europe Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, has earned the title of the 2015 U.S. Army Europe Retention Noncommissioned Officer of the year.
Career counselors conduct retention and re-enlistment interviews, determine Soldiers' eligibility to re-enlist or extend their current enlistments; review re-enlistment and extension documents; coordinate retention ceremonies and advise commanders on all areas of the retention program.
Gbassage explained that the competition tested his skills as a career counselor unlike anything before. He credited his success to his past and present mentors, his fellow competitors who pushed him to his limits, and his family.
The annual competition tests counselors on a variety of job and Solider skills to select the best career counselor within the separate units across Europe under USAREUR command. The two-day event includes a standard Army physical fitness test consisting of two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups and a two-mile run; a timed 50-question written test; and an appearance before a board of sergeants major who grilled competitors on their military knowledge, skills and bearing.
In addition to the three events, judges assessed each competitor based on a submission packet that described their goals and accomplishments.
This was the first year U.S. Army Europe held a competition for retention noncommissioned officers.
McKelvy credited her success to her motivation, resiliency, and her command team.
In closing, she advised potential competitors to study their craft through practical application because there was no way to really sit down a study. Most of the knowledge she had gained came from simply doing her job to the best of her ability.
Gbassage will represent USAREUR at the Secretary of the Army's Career Counselor of the Year Competition in Washington, D.C. in January.