Walking between two raised sabers crossed at the tips to form an apex in the likeness of an inverted "V," the shape of the chevrons they now don as noncommissioned officers, 33 Soldiers were inducted into the Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Corps during a recent ceremony at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC).
"You are being inducted into the world's finest noncommissioned officer corps; a corps that armies around the world would love to emulate," said Command Sgt. Maj. Donna A. Brock, command sergeant major for the U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) and senior enlisted advisor to Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho.
Brock, the guest speaker at the induction ceremony, charged the new NCOs with living the NCO Creed. "Don't let the Creed become a cliché. Live it to the letter and you will excel beyond your dreams."
She described induction into the NCO Corps as a rite of passage.
"You are the squad leader, first line supervisor - the most important position in the chain of command. You are now in charge of something and you will have a little more responsibility and will be expected to act accordingly," said Brock.
She encouraged the new sergeants to gain the confidence of those around them - superiors, peers and subordinates. "That's a never-ending cycle because there's always a new boss, an upcoming [permanent change of station], a new Soldier assigned to your squad or section, so that means that you always have to be up on your game."
Before becoming the top enlisted Soldier in MEDCOM, Brock was the senior enlisted leader (SEL) for Joint Task Force National Capital Region Medical at Naval Support Activity Bethesda. He told the NCOs to be consistent in what they say and do.
"Stay current in your training [and] be true to your word. Always remember that Soldiers are watching you just as you watched your mentor, and hopefully, you will become a mentor," Brock said. She continued, "You must be confident. Along with confidence, you must not get cocky or big-headed, but remain humble."
She added that character is also important to success. "You must build on character. This is an important feature that speaks volumes of you as a person."
Lastly, Brock encouraged the Soldiers to have positive attitudes, which she said go hand-in-hand with character. "You can develop a positive attitude by emphasizing the good, being tough-minded and refusing defeat. Our life and our work is a reflection of our attitude.
"Now I'll leave you all with this small note to ponder: Yesterday is a cancelled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have, so spend it wisely. Think about this when dealing with Soldiers and leaders and your life," Brock concluded.
"Ceremonies such as this one are a traditional reminder of why we do what we do so well," said 1st Sgt. Gary McKinney, a senior NCO at WRNMMC. "The [NCO Creed] has been a baseline for years that guide us in the decisions we make day-to-day and when in combat. It keeps many grounded and it motivates others to continue to be the best at taking care of Soldiers and completing missions.
He added, "NCOs and SELs are the keepers of the standards, the counselors and problem-solvers just to mention a few roles."
One of the new inductees, Sgt. Javier Rivera, said the ceremony was very meaningful for him for a couple of reasons. "It was so motivational and inspirational, especially since the MEDCOM command sergeant major was there," he said.
The new sergeant added, "My responsibility as a NCO is to help Soldiers become the best they can. [I want to] make sure they are taken care of because if a Soldier is not taken care of how can you expect them to take care of you?"
Another inductee, Sgt. Albin T. Eldeen, agreed. "My responsibilities as a NCO are very simple and stated best in the NCO Creed: 'My two basic responsibilities will always be uppermost in my mind - accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my Soldiers.'
"It says all that I can say better than I can say it," Eldeen concluded.