GULF OF ADEN – Making intelligent career decisions is one of the most daunting tasks junior Sailors face, especially in the midst of deployment, that’s where the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) Career Development Team (CDT) comes in.
“The most difficult career choice for me is making the right decisions now to be set up for success in the future,” said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Beatry Huston III. “My department career counselor has given me the guidance to be successful up to this point.”
Established as an enlisted rate in 1972, Navy Counselors (NC) manage and advise the career decisions of enlisted Sailors. NCs aboard Boxer use their extensive training and knowledge in career planning to lead Boxer’s Forty-five member CDT which is made up of the command triad, departmental leadership, divisional career counselors, and the NCs.
“Managing careers is a team sport. It takes the participation of the entire CDT to make it happen,” said Chief Navy Counselor Sarah Morales. “Every single member plays an important role.”
Navy commands must have one career counselor assigned for every 30 Sailors in their unit. Those career counselors expand the reach of Boxer’s three NCs, who serve approximately 1,038 Sailors assigned to ship’s company.
“I’m responsible for 170 people in Supply department,” said Ship’s Serviceman 1st Class Christy Naranjo, departmental career counselor for Supply. “Ten of those Sailors help organize and plan retention applications, reenlistment requests, and perform career development boards.”
NCs provide guidance and counseling on educational choices, duty assignments, career development, advancement, and separations from the Navy. In addition, as subject matter experts, they train all members of the CDT.
“We ensure that our CDT is educated with the right information and provide access to all of our instructions,” said Morales. “We also welcome Sailors in our office to answer any questions they may have.”
The CDT and NC office work with every Sailor to help them make informed career decisions. That also boosts Boxer’s personnel readiness.
“I remain in constant communication with the CCC office,” said Naranjo. “That helps me stay up to date with new naval messages and publications that come out monthly, quarterly, and annually. I take that knowledge and relay it to my divisional counselors.”
CDT representatives, serving as career subject matter experts for their department or division, are the first point of contact for Sailors seeking to understand career options and how their decisions will impact their career.
“Boxer has a very strong CDT and I believe the support we show our Sailors contributes to the high retention rate,” said Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Emily Tobita, Aviation Intermediate Maintenance departmental Career counselor.
A strong CDT contributed to Boxer being recognized in 2016 with her 5th consecutive Retention Excellence Award (REA). This award measures the effectiveness of a unit’s ability to serve the career performance needs of individual Sailors and retain eligible service members for continued service. Boxer is authorized to hoist the REA pennant and paint adorning golden anchors.
“The most rewarding part of helping Sailors is renewing their sense of motivation when discussing their careers and helping them get closer to their goals and dreams,” said Tobita. “It is very satisfying to see a career develop, and Sailor better themselves.”
Boxer is currently deployed in the 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security and theater security cooperation efforts.