For career advice, check with Sgt. Major Willene Orr

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – She’s the soldier in the middle of the photo. It’s when Sgt. Major Willene Orr was deployed with the 101st Airborne in Afghanistan.  On that deployment, in fact on all her posts since 1994 Willene has been on duty as a Career Counselor. It’s the job she holds now with the Army Materiel Command. Sgt. Major Willene Orr is AMC’s Command Career Counselor.

Willene joined the Army 30 years ago starting out as a Private, an Administrative Specialist.  She’s come up through the ranks and now has reached the top of the enlisted pyramid. She says in her younger days she looked at Sergeants Major in awe. Now she is one.

“It feels wonderful. What I always look at and what folks told me, don’t ever forget where you come from, and before honor, there’s humility,” said the Sgt. Major.

She is humble, but also experienced. She’s been stationed at seven different bases in the U.S., and deployed in multiple foreign countries, multiple times.  Her duty is to advise soldiers on whether they should re-enlist.

“Okay, so you are a recruiter,” we asked. “No, I’m a career counselor. And what I do, I provide career guidance,” Sgt. Major Orr replied. “Most folks know because we wear a badge that says career counselor, and not everyone wears this badge.”

The badge means Willene has to make sure some experienced soldiers stay in uniform. “We have to ensure we maintain the integrity of the force with highly skilled, highly qualified soldiers. That’s always been the mission,” said the Sgt. Major.

Willene Orr has the knowledge and the respect to advise soldiers in this big career decision. As much as anyone, she understands the oath they’ll have to take. “We support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. To bear truth faith and allegiance to the same. To obey the orders of the President of the United States, and the officers appointed over us,” said Willene. That oath is the one re-enlisting soldiers take. They agree she says, to raise their hands and affirm that they will continue serving the nation.