INSCOM Career Counselor of the Year

By Master Sgt. Joan E. Fischer

    Staff Sgt. James R. Bragg started the morning as a brigade winner during the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command's Career Counselor of the Year selection board, Oct. 17. He left later that day the winner with the Department of the Army competition in his sights.

    Bragg represented the 742nd MI Battalion, 704th MI Brigade, Fort George G. Meade, Md., during the board selection process. INSCOM began the process with 28 career counselors. They answered questions on a variety of opinion-related topics, and questions concerning active and Reserve Component processing.

    In tight competition against his peers, INSCOM's 1996 Career Counselor of the Year said his success at the battalion level could be directly attributed to his battalion commander, Lt. Col. Frank B. Bragg Jr., (no relation).

    “Quality leadership is a key to a successful re-enlistment program,” he said. If (the commander) is taking care of soldiers, soldiers stay in. That makes my job easier.”

    Bragg first joined the Army in 1983 as a 95B, military police. He had an 18-month break in service after his initial enlistment and rejoined his career field in October 1987. As a member of the Military Police Corps, he was assigned to Gen. Maxwell R. Thurman's staff as a driver and security escort in Panama during Operation Just Cause.

    Bragg became a career counselor in March 1994. He said he had been doing the duties of a re-enlistment noncommissioned officer part-time and enjoyed his work.

    “I felt I could help soldiers better,” he said of his new career choice. He particularly likes helping soldiers get the assignments they want and need to be successful in their military careers. He likes to help soldiers find out their needs for themselves and their families and help fill those needs. Bragg is supported by his wife, Tamala, and daughters, Samantha and Alexandra.

    “I've been in the Army 20 years,” said his battalion commander, Lt. Col. Bragg. “He is the best career counselor I remember ever being around. And I've been around quite a few.”

    Bragg's first assignment in the career counselor field, then 00R, was with INSCOM's 703rd MI Brigade, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. He went there as a battalion-level retention NCO after training. He quickly fell under the influence of Sgt. 1st Class Douglas J. Ports, then the 703rd Brigade's retention NCO and INSCOM's 1994 Retention NCO of the Year.

    “I learned from him,” said Bragg. “(You) learn enough at school to get in trouble. He helped me a lot.”

    One thing the New Jersey native learned was how to meet mission. He said he has always exceeded re-enlistment mission during his tenure with both the 703rd and 704th MI Brigades.

    His main focus is on re-enlisting quality soldiers. He said he talks to the soldiers about developing their careers, career maps and tough assignments. He also works the negative side of the job — chapter discharges and bars to re-enlistment.

    Bragg wants to repeat the success of INSCOM's previous two career counselors of the year winners and win the Department of the Army competition.

    Bragg received an INSCOM plaque recognizing him as the 1996 career counselor of the year, a desk clock, Noncommissioned Officer Association plaque, $100 gift certificate from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, and a Class A uniform, among other items.

Master Sgt. Fischer is the NCOIC, Public Affairs Office, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Va.

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   Last Updated: January 23, 1997