FORT BRAGG, NC, UNITED STATES
FORT BRAGG, N.C. – He speaks as easily and openly with his battalion’s senior enlisted advisor as he does with lower enlisted soldiers. The open door to his office and his down to earth attitude make visitors feel comfortable stopping by for a chat. These characteristics are important for Staff Sgt. Teddy Fortenberry, because he has to talk to soldiers of all ranks everyday and is responsible for their continued careers in the Army.
Fortenberry, a Lufkin, Texas, native, is the career counselor for the 407th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. Because of his professionalism and love for the job, he represented the 82nd Airborne Division at the U.S. Army Forces Command Career Counselor of the Year competition at Ft. McPherson, Ga., Sept. 22-24.
Although he had short notice of the brigade and division level Career Counselor of the Year boards, he said they were easier than normal promotion boards because they were job-specific. “They covered anything having to do with retaining soldiers,” he said. “They asked about stuff you deal with everyday.”
Eleven counselors vied for the FORSCOM competition, which included a physical training test, land navigation course, nine-line medical evacuation, casualty evaluation, weapons maintenance, a written test and a board. This was the first year the pt test and land navigation events were added to the contest, Fortenberry said, making it more well-rounded. “For most boards, you get dressed up, go in and talk,” he said. “This tested my skills on stuff I haven’t done in two to three years.”
Fortenberry enlisted in the Army in 2003 as a petroleum supply specialist. He was stationed at Ft. Sill, Okla., before coming to A Company, 407th BSB in June 2006. After serving as a squad leader and platoon sergeant, Fortenberry heard of a retention position within his unit. Retention is similar to career counseling, but is a temporary duty. He said he had second thoughts about the job at first, because being a retention non-commissioned officer is not a leadership position. “I thought at first that you can’t have soldiers,” he said. “But really, you have every soldier [in your unit].” While the average platoon sergeant is responsible for about 20 soldiers, Fortenberry is responsible for over 200.
Command Sgt. Major Iteago Felton, 407th BSB’s senior enlisted advisor, said he asked to let Fortenberry leave his regular job to work in retention and ensured that he would be able to attend the Army Career Counselor Course in Fort Jackson. After working in retention for over a year, he traveled to Fort Jackson to complete the course, and has been a certified career counselor for nine months.
“I love it”, he said.
It is apparent that Fortenberry enjoys his job, especially when he can help soldiers get what they want, whether it be extra money, a new job, or a dream assignment. Felton said that it is important to him and the 407th command that their soldiers are taken care of, and Fortenberry makes sure that happens.
Spc. Christopher Grizzle, a small arms/artillery repairer with 407th BSB, recently worked with Fortenberry for his reenlistment. Looking for a change of scenery, he came to Fortenberry wanting a reenlistment bonus and a year-long assignment in Korea before being stationed at Ft. Campbell, Ky. “He got me Korea and my bonus,” Grizzle said. “He did everything he said he would.”
Although Fortenberry always tries to give soldiers what they want, “it’s really a thankless job,” he said. But seeing a soldier reenlist, who is happy with what he gets, is thanks enough. “You have to look at the outcome to get the benefit. It’s rewarding in itself.”
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This work, Golden Guidance: 2nd Brigade Combat Team, by SSG Kissta DiGregorio, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.