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NEWS | Nov. 5, 2014

Community commitment: Soldier supports citizens

By Senior Airman Austin Harvill 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

To achieve recognition for excellence within a unit, whether it is a company or the entire Department of Defense, brings a great sense of pride to a U.S. Army Soldier. However, the direction of that pride truly defines the nature and ethics of that warrior.

Staff Sgt. Retina McCarter, 93rd Signal Brigade Headquarters and Headquarters Company information assurance noncommissioned officer, believes returning that recognition to those who support her and other Soldiers means more than any accolade.

"The American people support us every day, and I think that can be easy to forget," said McCarter. "While [they] rely on us to defend the nation, it is important we recognize there is more we can do in addition to our sworn duties."

As a recent inductee to the prestigious Sergeant Audie Murphy Club and this year's Military Citizen of the Year, McCarter said her success comes from those around her. She believes interacting with other Soldiers and those in the community is the best way to learn and grow, and by being a stalwart NCO to her Soldiers and an active volunteer within the community, she can grow alongside them.

"I learn side-by-side with my Soldiers; I include them in what I do and I don't expect them to do things I wouldn't do," said McCarter. "NCOs lead from the front, but I think going the extra step to bring more junior Soldiers to the front as well makes a team more efficient."

McCarter said she also believe a major contributor to her success comes from confidence and comfort as a Soldier.

"We all have to be true to ourselves to reach the next level," she said. "If we are confident and sure in ourselves, that leaves more time and effort in taking care of Soldiers, which is top priority for any NCO."

To help build that surety and stability, McCarter said Soldiers need to be just as active out of uniform and in the community.

"Being a Soldier is no joke. We have demanding jobs, but that doesn't mean we can neglect our duty as American citizens," she said. "In a time of constant conflict, we need to show our communities we are more than warriors. We are friends and we want to help out just like everyone else."

McCarter believes striving to be the best possible person, not just Soldier, can lead to mission success in the future.

"If a Soldier can be an accomplished warfighter and an exemplary citizen, they can lead our country to a state of peace," said McCarter. "In that Army of the future, at peace, we can better protect and move through hardships with our community, which is more important to keeping our nation safe than any individual recognition."