Citizen-Soldiers: the Soldier behind the rank (part 2)

Citizen-Soldiers: the Soldier behind the rank (part 2)

by Staff Sgt. Tina Villalobos
U.S. Army

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait -- Citizen-Soldiers bring with them an abundance of diverse talents, skills, and education. These attributes are often reflected in transferrable work skills that enrich both their military and civilian careers, and they can bring a higher level of sophistication than required by their military occupational specialty.

Some of these Soldiers enjoy the differences between their civilian and military work. Others have identified how to incorporate their civilian education, skills, and experiences to benefit their unit, and enhance their own capacity to complete a mission. Still others may do the same work on both sides and have the opportunity to enrich their ability to contribute all around.

Here are just a few of their stories.


Essential to almost any high-level job is the ability to communicate well, analyze situations, and think outside the box.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Billie Hancock, human resources officer, 35th Infantry Division, demonstrates these skills and more. And with just five courses remaining to complete his master's degree in criminal justice, he brings an innate ability to understand laws and regulations, and an ability to conduct solid research.

"I work in administration, mainly to do with the officer promotion packets, boards, evaluations, transfers, discharges -- it's all administration," said Hancock. "My job requires a good understanding of written and oral communication abilities, and a lot of research."

A former active duty Marine, Hancock draws from those and other experiences to excel at his current military duties.

"When I was in the Marine Corps, I was in the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) during my last year," said Hancock. "The investigatory process in researching is probably one of the main ways I use my education in my work. It doesn't correlate exactly, but it is a transferable work skill. Many times people will pose questions to me that require me to do a great deal of investigation and research to determine the answer. I sometimes have to go through regulations and histories of assignments to piece together the puzzle."

Hancock, an avid hunter and outdoorsman, has also found an outlet for his creative side. As the published author of multiple magazine fiction articles, he has the ability to draw his audience into his outdoor experiences and allow them to vicariously experience the wilderness he enjoys. His notable Texan drawl, lively articulation and quick wit, make it easy to envision him hunting in the Texas countryside, and then effortlessly writing about his adventures.

Hancock credits his civilian experiences with the majority of his military successes. He grew up on a ranch, and his father mentored him in dealing with livestock, people and finances.

"I gained 99 percent of my leadership skills in the civilian world," said Hancock. "When you spend hours upon hours on horseback or out on these ranches, you really put your leadership skills into play. It was the leadership skills and experience I got on the civilian side that worked so well for me in the military and actually propelled me up to where I am today."

Hancock touts the value of Guard and Reserve troops in augmenting the modern military.

"The Guard and Reserve components play a valuable role in enabling the active military to complete their missions," said Hancock. "If you look at brigades, they'll have a battalion of National Guard, a battalion of Army Reserve people, and a battalion or two of active duty Army. They all fit in, they all mesh together, and they get their mission accomplished. So, I think it would be very hard, especially to carry on a long campaign like we're doing now, without the Guard and Reserve."

These Citizen-Soldiers enrich their ranks with specialized skills, diverse educations, and vast experience, according to Hancock.

"We have an E-5 in my section right now," said Hancock. "He's actually got a degree in education. He taught high school physics and science. And he'll probably go back to that. He's a pretty smart guy! And, my barracks neighbor is actually a lawyer at a firm in Alabama. His military duties have nothing to do with his law degree. He's in the logistics section here. You see people doing jobs in the Guard that have nothing to do with their civilian jobs. A lot of them have professional degrees. It's very interesting."

(Editor's Note: This is part one of an ongoing series on "The Soldier behind the rank.")

Subscribe to our Stripes Pacific newsletter and receive amazing travel stories, great event info, cultural information, interesting lifestyle articles and more directly in your inbox!

Follow us on social media!

Facebook: Stars and Stripes Pacific
Flipboard: Stars and Stripes Community Sites

Looking to travel while stationed abroad? Check out our other Pacific community sites!
Stripes Japan
Stripes Korea
Stripes Guam

Recommended Content

Around the Web