By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Raymond Maddocks, Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command Public Affairs
A native of Lockport, Illinois, Gonsoulin entered the fleet as an undesignated seaman. Early on as a new Sailor, Navy Counselor 1st Class Chris Kurdziel mentored him to help find a rate that fit his needs and to help prepare him for his first Navy advancement exam. It was a basic level of support for the NC1, yet it proved to be career shaping guidance for Gonsoulin.
“My first career counselor was looking out for my best interests, making sure I struck a rate and took the test,” said Gonsoulin. “That was something I always appreciated and thought was important.”
That appreciation eventually led Gonsoulin to take on the role of Command Career Counselor (CCC), allowing him to offer the same kind of support he received from Kurdziel to other Sailors.
CCCs like Gonsoulin serve as critical links between Sailors, their commands and supporting Navy organizations. On behalf of the Commanding Officer, the CCC is responsible for managing the command's Career Development Program, a position of great trust. Career counselors are subject matter experts in all facets of career information programs, including unique requirements specific to retention in the Navy Reserve.
Gonsoulin’s most recent work as a CCC for Navy Reserve Assault Craft Unit One at Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Great Lakes, Illinois, providing career guidance and mentorship to over 80 Sailors, has now distinguished him above his peers.
Master Chief Navy Counselor Kimberly Cedar, Reserve Force Career Counselor at Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command (CNRFC), says there were many highly competitive candidates for the 2020 SELRES Unit Career Counselor of the year award, but Gonsoulin stood out.
Cedar said the specific accomplishments Gonsoulin completed leading to his award was his work creating tailored welcome aboard packages for new unit Sailors, and for mentoring other NOSC Great Lakes unit career counselors on Career Development programs.
His personnel development and community service also contributed to his nomination. In his off-duty time, Gonsoulin volunteers as a youth baseball and hockey coach and has recently received his master’s degree in applied leadership and management from Arizona State University.
As rewarding as being a CCC is, Gonsoulin says it’s not without its challenges.
“A big challenge at first, especially when you’re first starting out, is fielding all of the questions people have,” said Gonsoulin. “Command career counselors have many different responsibilities so that the questions could be about any number of things.”
Out of the numerous ways CCCs support Sailors, reenlistments are one of the highlights for Gonsoulin.
“I enjoy seeing things like reenlistments because you get to walk Sailors through the process of getting their orders and have a ceremony the way they want it,” said Gonsoulin. “It’s a moment where I can physically see what I’m working for.”