Above & Beyond articles profile Soldiers and Airmen who go out of their way to excel as citizens and Guardsmen. Anyone may nominate a peer to be featured in Above & Beyond based on the Guardsman’s merits; not only as a servicemember, but also as a citizen. Colorado National Guard’s Above & Beyond articles are forwarded to the National Guard Bureau’s Above & Beyond program.
They don’t have glamorous jobs by any means, but without them, Colorado Army National Guardsmen’s promotions and retirement funds, among a host of other records, wouldn’t be tracked. They make up the personnel directorate (G1), and are an integral part of the organization.
The component’s senior enlisted leadership team of five was nominated by State Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Lousberg as this month’s Above & Beyond Soldiers.
Some time ago, Lousberg saw a directorate in need of fresh ideas and leadership at the senior noncommissioned officer level.
Lousberg said the team resurrected confidence in the personnel directorate after a tumultuous two-year period.
“This team came in and took over a process that was less than adequate and had pretty much fallen to pieces, from the enlisted promotions side of the house to general records keeping,” Lousberg said. “They picked up the pieces and took ownership of it and worked night and day to fix it. They helped re-write an entire new promotion pamphlet for the state, helped institute an automated (promotion) boarding system and brought back the confidence of Guardsmen within their G1 section.”
The team, comprised of Sgt. Maj. Russell Hamilton, Master Sgt. Jeanine Williams, Sgt. 1st Class Cory Fynboh, Sgt. 1st Class Frankie Gomez and Sgt. 1st Class Justin VanValkenburg, provide enlisted leadership and guidance for the 36-person G1 directorate. Each one was hand-picked by Lousberg for his or her respective role and was expected to demonstrate a higher standard than his or her predecessor.
Hamilton, 41, comes from a 16-year background in the active duty Army armor and also spent time as a recruiter and a missileer in the COARNG’s 100th Missile Defense Brigade. He’s been the G1 sergeant major since June 2009 and provides oversight specifically to the NCOs of the directorate.
Gomez, 36, was a munitions specialist for 11 years in the active duty Army, then joined the COARNG’s 8th Civil Support Team before he was recruited to his current position as the health systems specialist noncommissioned officer in charge in November 2009.
Williams, 47, spent seven years in the active duty Army as a human resource specialist and three years as a recruiter. For the majority of her 24-year career, she has worked in personnel. She joined the G1 in September 2009 and is the enlisted personnel management NCOIC.
Fynboh, 33, joined the COARNG in 1998 as a vehicle mechanic before becoming an HR specialist. He has been the personnel services center (military records) NCOIC since September 2009.
VanValkenburg, 30, joined the COARNG in 1997 as a cannon crewmember in the field artillery, then cross-trained into the electronic maintenance and calibrations career field as an operator and maintainer. He later became an HR specialist as has been with the G1 since April 2009 as its enlisted promotions NCOIC.
HG: Explain this “tumultuous two-year period” that Command Sgt. Maj. Lousberg is talking about before all of you became a team.
Williams: There were really no set standards for the G1. The sergeant major set specific goals within each of the sections and hired the right people to hold up the standards.
Hamilton: Before, things were not always done in a well-broadcast manner, and there was no transparency in what was being done, so there was a lot of skepticism. Things were being done that weren’t supported by regulations or weren’t fair and equitable across the board. There was a lot of doubt in the field as to what was really going on.
HG: What improvements have all of you seen since coming on board the G1 directorate?
Williams: The whole G1 works as a team now. All the NCOs can do someone else’s job, so there’s not a single point of failure anymore. If someone is gone, we have coverage. I also see a lot of support to the field and more interaction with other sections, like the pay branch and the battalion administrative offices.
Hamilton: The feedback to date that we’ve received from the units in the field has been very appreciative in our formalizing of processes and our communication. For example, we’ve established a monthly G1 newsletter to help communicate new policies and procedures, key events, and updates coming from the National Guard Bureau. We want the units in the field to know that we are not just working up here (Colorado National Guard state headquarters) just taking care of the people that we feel like taking care of, but that we are truly taking care of all of the Soldiers in the COARNG.
Fynboh: Within my section alone, I had 15 temporary technicians who were just doing their own thing and it kind of bled into everybody else. Now I see that we’re coming together and are more disciplined. Two of the biggest accomplishments in my section that I’m most proud of is that we’ve got the enlisted record briefs out now, and the increase of personnel services design redelivery training that pushes former G1 tasks down to brigade and battalion levels.
VanValkenburg: We’ve come out of the Stone Age from an enlisted promotions process that was absolutely broken. We started using the National Guard Automated Board System, which takes all the board’s point tallies and automates them into a closed database that allows the board to be able to vote on those records.
Also, there’s a new sense of pride and workmanship with the Soldiers and civilians in the G1 that was nonexistent before. I think they realize how important their job is now. It’s not a glorious job and they’re not in the field as much, but they’re still important.
Gomez: The biggest thing for me is to know that our promotions are going to be handled fairly and the paperwork isn’t going to get lost on purpose. There’s also more organization up in the G1. In my section, the HSS, I have two good Soldiers who are very smart but they were lacking confidence due to lack of support, so I came in and taught them a little leadership and it pushed up their confidence level.
Lousberg: Our COARNG G1 team stood up to the plate and took ownership of a process in need of change and turned it back around. From the outside looking in, it’s truly become a cohesive organization. Everyone is going in the same direction now.