USAREC NCO Goes Extra Mile for TRADOC Soldier of the Year Competition
By Joe Jobin, USAREC, Indianapolis Battatlion
Over the course of the past year, Sgt. 1st Class Mark Brunette with the Indianapolis Battalion proved time and time again that with the right preparation, commitment, and fortitude, an Army recruiter has the ability to be compete with Soldiers in the operational Army at all levels of competition.
As U.S. Army Recruiting Command’s NCO of the year, Brunette tackled Training and Doctrine Command’s (TRADOC) Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year competition at Fort Eustis, Va., Aug. 4-8. This challenge brought together the best of the best in a weeklong event that included various tasks ranging from a
12-mile road march to a stress shoot that challenged the participants both mentally and physically.
Preparation for the event requires countless hours fine-tuning various skills to perfection. As a recruiter, finding the time and resources needed to prepare while recruiting America’s best and brightest can be a challenge.
“I’ve done boards before on active duty where I was placed on a special duty status for a period of time to train for the competition at the next level,” said Brunette. “In recruiting, you cannot do that. Just taking one person out of a recruiting center of five to seven people is a lot of manpower to lose, and we depend on each other to get the job done.”
To get to the TRADOC level of competition, Brunette had to compete and win his way through many echelons: Battalion NCO of the Quarter, Battalion NCO of the Year, Brigade NCO of the Year, and USAREC NCO of the Year. Preparation for this required an out-of-the-box approach.
“The majority of the training I did took place on personal time without the ability to practice with real equipment,” Brunette stated. “I relied on the internet and being able to use YouTube and training site videos on how to do the specialized taskings.”
Brunette described the preparation process with one word - “Challenging.” A significant obstacle to overcome as an assigned recruiter in a geographically separated area was the lack of available resources.
“I had to beg, borrow and steal to get anything I could,” said Brunette. “At an active duty post, Soldiers have the ability to check out the needed training items. But in USAREC, we just don’t have the resources readily available to properly prepare yourself for the competition taskings.”
Brunette did not win at TRADOC but he gave the weeklong competition his all. Brunette’s professionalism and continuous resolve to overcome any barrier sets him apart and makes him a very valuable member of the team, said Indianapolis Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Michael McLendon.
“Having a Soldier like Brunette in this battalion is great because he possesses those extraordinary traits that we want other Soldiers to emulate,” said McLendon. “His hard work and dedication on a day-to-day basis is the perfect example for our other recruiters to not just succeed at a task, but to excel at it, with a want and
desire to be the best.”
As the current USAREC NCO of the Year, Brunette is not eligible to compete in next year’s competition. He does want to encourage other high-speed competitors to step up to the challenge.
“USAREC and our brigade have put a great stamp on this competition,” said Brunette. “It is our duty and obligation to represent this command to the best of our ability.”