December 8, 2023

NAS Pax Career Counselor Honored

Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) 1st Class Jann Vhernal F. Banzon. (US Navy photo)

Jann Vhernal F. Banzon has been named the US Navy’s Command Career Counselor of the Year for fiscal 2022.

The announcement was made by VADM Richard Cheeseman Jr., deputy chief of naval operations for personnel, manpower, and training, N1, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and Chief of Naval Personnel. Also named in the announcement was Navy Counselor of the Year Navy Counselor 1st Class Dionna K. Mills, Recruit Training Command.

“These sailors were selected from a field of outstanding finalists representing some of the finest career counselors serving ashore,” VADM Cheeseman said. “Those nominated and not selected should be equally proud of their outstanding achievements. Our personal drive and commitment to the Career Development Program and Navy Culture of Excellence not only exemplifies your superb performance, but also attests to your dedication for the personal and professional needs of our Sailors, their families, and the Navy. Your success represents commitment to the growth and development of your Sailors and serves as the foundation of Fleet Readiness.”

The counselor serves as the critical link between a sailor, their command, and supporting Navy organizations, including Navy Personnel Command. On behalf of the commanding officer, the career counselor is responsible for managing the command’s Career Development Program.

Mr. Banzon reported to Naval Air Station Patuxent River from USS Lake Erie in a Command Duty Officer billet. He assumed interim Command Career Counselor duties in June 2021 and officially became the Command Career Counselor after completing course of instruction in March 2022. From October 2021 to September 2022 he was cited for conducting 141 career development boards, processing 30 reenlistment requests accruing $248,000 in reenlistment bonus payments, and increasing zone A/B/C retention rates in the command from 71% to 81%, above the Navy’s 70% paradigm.

The announcement came as a surprise to Mr. Banzon, who was preparing for a leave period when he got the news. He received a call from Command Master Chief CMDCM Ryan Colosimo on the day before Christmas Eve, for what Mr. Banzon thought was for a personnel question.

“He asked me if I received a phone call from the XO already; I thought he was just inquiring on an instance that happened prior and I said that it’s good to go,” Mr. Banzon said. “He said OK and that I should enjoy my leave. For me, that’s sort of unusual because I know he was on holiday leave as well. Shortly thereafter, I received a phone call from XO, Captain Burfield, congratulating me for receiving the Command Career Counselor of the Year award for the entire US Navy.”

Banzon said the news made him feel even more appreciated than usual.

“I always feel appreciated but this time I felt more connected on what I do as a Command Career Counselor,” he said. “It reassured me that what we are doing is meaningful. The feeling is as warm as the ‘thank you’ that we received when we’re able to assist and help our members on their career related inquiries.”

Mr. Banzon was quick to thank the team at Pax River for the collaboration that made him so competitive for the award.

“The statistics that we have right now wouldn’t exist without the assistance that we always have from the chain of command,” Mr. Banzon said. “Being a career counselor is not a one-man job, and it can make or break a person’s career. I still have a lot to learn in terms of career counseling. There will be situations that I won’t be able provide an answer right away. But having a team that works beside you, there will be someone that’s been in the same situation that can give you the answer.”

While Mr. Banzon was not interested in singing his own praises, NAS Patuxent River’s leadership was quick to state just how impactful he is to the command.

“GSM1 Banzon has earned this recognition above his peers due to his dedication and relentless pursuit of excellence; the NAS Pax River Leadership Team was not surprised he was selected by OPNAV as the top non-rated Career Counselor in the entire Navy,” Mr. Colosimo said. “He epitomizes the ‘sailor first’ mindset, and at every turn has done whatever it takes to help his shipmates in their careers.”

This article was provided by the Pax River Public Affairs Office.

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