Quantico, Va. --
The Reserve Career Planner of the Year Award was presented to Staff Sgt. Wyanika M. Christophe from 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, during the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ 2014 Combined Awards Ceremony, Jan. 29, 2015, in Quantico, Virginia. Christophe was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for her hard work and dedication.
“As a career planner my main focus is on retention; not just retention but re-training Marines, putting them in a job that best fits them and their needs,” said Christophe. “We always want to retain Marines, even if Marines are coming off of active duty we want the focus to be to shift them from active to reserve and continue to build the reserves,” said Christophe.
The Combined Awards Program originated in 1995 when Gen. Charles C. Krulak, the 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps, sanctioned the first Recruiter of the Year award. Since then, the program has expanded to include prior service recruiters, drill instructors, Marine security guards, Marine combat instructors, career planners and athletes. The program’s mission is to recognize Marines within those billets and honor them for their commitment to the Marine Corps and their dedication to improving themselves and the future of the Corps.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Price, the manpower officer with G-1, Marine Forces Reserve says that career planners are vital to the Corps.
In 2011, the use of billet identification codes came into effect. Every Marine is required to have a BIC, which identifies what unit they belong to, what their job assignment is, and the military occupational specialty required for that billet. Christophe says BICs are important because they allow career planners to better retain the most qualified Marines by seeing the shortfalls of some Marines and the successes of others.
“Career planners are invaluable in the alignment process,” said Price. “They align Marines to the correct BIC. In cases where the Marine does not meet the qualifications for a billet within that unit or if we have too many Marines assigned to that unit, career planners give them opportunities to transition to another MOS, move to another unit.”
Career planners also play a vital role in retention of high quality Marines, an issue that the Commandant recently identified as a crucial effort to the future of the Marine Corps. The Commandant’s planning guidance states that “the Corps must remain committed to constantly improving the quality of our manning, training and equipping efforts and our resultant warfighting capability.”
To retain Marines, career planners provide career counseling and make sure Marines clearly understand the opportunities available to them. They also work hard to put Marines in a job that fits best or help transition them from active to Reserve. By retaining Marines, career planners help keep the Marine Corps strong and prepared for the future.
While career planners work hard year round to assist other Marines, once a year they have a chance to be recognized by the Commandant of the Marine Corps at the Combined Awards Ceremony. This year, the ceremony was packed with family and friends of the finalists including Christophe’s parents. The families were thanked for their long-standing support of their distinguished Marines. Christophe’s mother, Joann Christophe says her daughter’s hard working attitude is an important part of her character.
“She’s always been driven, from a young lady she was driven in high school so it does not surprise me how she is now, always on time, doing what she needs to do,” she said. “In high school, she was with ROTC, and not even finished high school yet and she wanted to join the Marines.”
Christophe’s father, Alfred G. Christophe III, also shared some of the same sentiments about her driven personality.
“I feel extremely proud,” he said. “She has an unbelievable work ethic; if she could she’d work 24 hours a day 7 days a week. You’d have to make her stop and sit down.”
As a career planner, Christophe takes her job very seriously and works very hard to uphold the standards set by her mentors and Marines who came before her, to whom she attributes most of her success.
“I can’t help but think about the Marines that helped to shape me and mold me,” said Christophe.
Christophe plans to continue to excel in her billet as a career planner and ensure Marines know to never take a uniform off that fits so well.