KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – For one married U.S. Army couple, counseling soldiers on their futures is more than a shared career – it is something that led to their marriage.
Sgt. 1st Class Danielle Vaccaro, an Army career counselor, first met her husband, Master Sgt. Daniel Vaccaro – a fellow career counselor – four years ago at a career counselor’s conference in Destin, Fla.
“What other place to meet your husband,” Danielle Vaccaro said with a laugh.
Four years later, Danielle Vaccaro is serving as a career counselor in Regional Command (South) with Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, her husband is back at Fort Carson, Colo., - where both are stationed – waiting to come to southern Afghanistan to do the same job for 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div.
“We’ll have a couple of months together at home,” Danielle Vaccaro said, adding that her husband is scheduled to deploy early next year, after she returns home.
Daniel Vaccaro said in an email that the challenge of being on a deployment schedule opposite his wife is keeping each other informed on what is happening at home.
“In the long run, I feel being on opposite deployments will make us stronger and more resilient,” Daniel Vaccaro said. “As with any Soldier, we will support whatever mission is required from the Army without hesitation.”
Danielle Vaccaro enlisted into the Army in September 1998. She has deployed once before from Fort Carson, as a military police officer. During her first deployment, to Iraq from 2003-2004, she conducted perimeter and base patrols, and helped provide security on convoys.
She has been a career counselor for the past seven years.
“My job is to reenlist highly qualified soldiers to stay on the Army team,” she said. “I wanted to become a career counselor to positively influence and impact soldiers’ lives. I love being able to keep soldiers and their families in such a great organization.”
When they’re not serving on separate deployments, Danielle and Daniel Vaccaro spend a lot of their time talking about their shared passion of helping Soldiers in their careers and goals.
“We have always discussed new, innovative ideas to better the Army's retention program,” Daniel Vaccaro said. “Our goal has always been to mentor young Soldiers and Officers, help make a better Army for the future and improve our foxholes for those who will be behind us.”
When the new fiscal year began on Oct. 1, 2013, Danielle Vaccaro got right to work tracking down HHBN soldiers at KAF who were eligible to re-enlist.
“We ask them to stay on the team, and if they say ‘No,’ then we put together a plan for after the Army,” she said.
Danielle Vaccaro maintains a roster of all deployed HHBN Soldiers assigned to her and who are eligible to extend their enlistment contracts. Many on the roster have already re-enlisted, she said.
“It’s our job to talk to each and every one of them,” she said, adding that Soldiers often sign their paper work “right when they’re able to.”
Sgt. Eric Glassey, a HHBN Soldier who is currently deployed to KAF, recently added three more years to his contract with help from Danielle Vaccaro, his career counselor. He reaffirmed his commitment to serve in the Army during a mass ceremony at KAF, Oct. 11, 2013. Several other HHBN soldiers also reenlisted during the ceremony after receiving help from Danielle Vaccaro.
“Sgt. 1st Class Vaccaro is a professional career counselor who cares about soldiers and always wants what is best for them,” Glassey said. “I recall the first time I met her. I was walking into the Regional Command (South) compound and she recognized me by my name and knew my re-enlistment window. She was able to handle the paperwork completely, allowing me to stay focused on the mission.”
During her free time at KAF, Danielle Vaccaro enjoys working out. She even participated in a Ruck 5K race last month to honor prisoners of war and service members missing in action. The event, she said, “brought back her Air Assault school days.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Corey Gill, command sergeant major for HHBN, 4th Inf. Div., said Danielle Vaccaro is a reliable career counselor.
“Seldom in a career do you stumble onto someone that cares as much about soldiers’ careers as they do their own, and Sgt. 1st Class Vaccaro is that person,” Gill said. “Sgt. 1st Class Vaccaro gives everything she has every single day to ensure soldier success. She also ensures that everyone around her adheres to the Army standards.”