FORT KNOX, Ky. –
Most young adults don't know the career opportunities available to them through the U.S. Army. Anything from an engineer diver all the way to medical services officer, the Army has more than 150 careers to choose from that can take you all over the world.
Capt. Christopher Foster enlisted in the U.S. Army in August of 2000. He had no idea how much it would change his life.
After high school, Foster completed two years of college and found himself at a crossroads. He didn't know if he was going to finish college or move on and do something else. What he did know is he wanted to go out and experience the world.
Foster started doing some research about the military. He talked to the Navy, the Coast Guard and the Army. He decided to join the Army.
"My dad and grandfather were in the Navy so we had a little bit of a lineage and that's why I had originally conceived of the Navy," Foster said. "But then I realized the opportunities that the Army gives you, and not just the incentives, but the guarantee. With the other branches, it's not as "locked-in" as it is with the Army."
Foster enlisted as an Engineer Diver. An Army diver performs tasks such as reconnaissance, demolition and salvage in underwater conditions.
"I have always been attracted to the water. When I was younger I was like a fish," Foster said. "My brothers used to throw me in the pool to see if it was cold or not."
He traveled all over the world, from Hawaii to Micronesia, Australia, Viet Nam, Thailand, Kwajalein, Alaska, Kuwait, Iraq and Kandahar.
"Some of the jobs that I've been on that were the most interesting is where we did some pro bono work for the University of Hawaii," Foster said. "They have a little island out in this bay that is actually like the original Gilligan's island."
Opportunities like this allowed the divers to practice their skillset and do something good for the community.
"We went out and moved some coral, which is a very delicate job," Foster recalled. "They had one of the world's experts. She trained us on how to do it properly. We also did some pier construction work for them."
Foster also went on a 45 day temporary duty assignment to Alaska. He and his dive team worked closely with the Coast Guard to recover a cargo vessel that sank sometime in the 1950s.
"When the cargo vessel sank, it was filled with bags of concrete and it was blocking one of the main waterways," recalled Foster. "We went out there on a mission and used all of our tools and skillsets to retrieve the bags of concrete to get the vessel light enough to move. Unfortunately we were unable to move the vessel because of environmental issues."
Foster was promoted to a staff sergeant while deployed in Kuwait and Iraq. He heard about the Green to Gold Active Duty Option Program and knew this was the right time in his career to make a change. It's a two-year program that provides Soldiers an opportunity to complete a baccalaureate degree or a two-year graduate degree and earn a commission as an officer.
"The leadership skills I had gained would carry me into being an officer, and I felt like it was the time," Foster said. "I knew I wanted to get my degree in psychology. I reached out to the university and started talking to their Green to Gold office, and they set me up with all the paperwork. So while I was deployed I had to do a couple classes online to catch up my degree plan. Then I put the packet together, applied and was accepted. I was just ecstatic."
Foster earned his Bachelors of Science in Psychology and commissioned in the Medical Services Corps as a Health Services Administrator.
"It's such a great experience to rise up through the ranks, and understand what the NCO and the junior soldiers go through to know what that life is," Foster said. "You could continue in the job that you're in when you enlisted or start something completely new as an officer. The Army gives you choices."
Foster attributes his career to his life and health choices.
"I trained to do a triathlon, and I came here and did the Iron Man. I've been on two Army 10-miler teams and I've done several marathons, "Foster said. "I have pretty good times, and all of those skills have contributed to my wellness and the wellness I project outward. I would not have been able to do any of those things without my experiences in the Army, both enlisted and an officer."
Foster has served in many leadership roles. He was a platoon leader, a brigade executive assistant, a brigade medical operations officer and medical recruiting brigade assistant operations officer. He has wrapped up his work as the Medical Recruiting Brigade HHC commander and is moving on to Human Resources Command as a strength manager. His change of command is Sept. 19.
"Being a brigade commander for me, it's a feeling that shows me I'm doing something that makes a difference to a lot of people," Foster said. "When you're in a leadership position like this, small decisions do have big impacts. Leadership is that aspect of understanding the morale and what it takes to get people to want to do the things that need to be done."
"I've had a lot of opportunities to branch into different functional areas," Foster said. "My job is the human resources aspect of healthcare management and going to HRC for me is the perfect next step. The Army has never failed me."