NCO heads to Army-level career counselor competition

Story and photo by Rick Scavetta
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern

Motivated by an infantryman’s drive, Staff Sgt. Donmonic Simpson recently proved his ability to mentor Soldiers during U.S. Army Europe’s career counselor competition.

Simpson, 28, the USAREUR Career Counselor of the Year, now heads home to Washington, where an Army-level board will determine the best career counselor in the Army. Counselors advise Soldiers on career options and advise commanders on the retention program.

“We take care of Soldiers and family members, counseling them on the benefits of staying Army, to include retirement, choice of duty station and retraining,” Simpson said.

An infantryman with a decade in uniform, Simpson deployed twice to Iraq with the Fort Hood-based 1st Cavalry Division and also took part in humanitarian aid mission after Hurricane Katrina. Afterward, while assigned to Fort Jackson, S.C., Simpson made his own career change. “I wanted to help Soldiers on a grander scale than what I was working as a team leader or a squad leader,” Simpson said.

In Kaiserslautern, Simpson first worked for the 21st Theater Sustainment Command. He recently moved to the Rhine Ordnance Barracks-based 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, a brigade-size headquarters that was recently known as the 357th Air & Missile Defense Detachment.

The two-day competition began Nov. 3 in Heidelberg. The first day included a physical training test and a written exam. The second day was a formal board. Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, commander of U.S. Army Europe, met the five top competitors, Simpson said, which included NCOs from the 21st TSC, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade and the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

Overall, Simpson was selected as the best. Command Sgt. Maj. Darrin Jefferies, senior enlisted leader at the 10th AAMDC, said he expected nothing less from Simpson.

“Since arriving to the 10th AAMDC, his work ethic and duty performance has been exceptional,” Jefferies said. “An achievement of this magnitude is a capstone for this stellar noncommissioned officer.”

The Army-level board is in late-January. For Simpson, who has brothers serving the Army and Air Force, that’s also a trip home to friends and family.

As an infantry squad leader, Simpson couldn’t imagine himself behind a desk, filing data and counseling Soldiers, he said. Yet, he’s found that leadership skills honed as a squad leader translate well into his new role, mentoring Soldiers through the retention process. “If you take care of Soldiers, Soldiers will take care of you,” Simpson said. “That’s my driving force.”