The first sergeant of U.S. Army Medical Recruiting Company, Houston unexpectedly tore his bicep tendon during a team-building event and a match of ultimate Frisbee in 2018. This injury led to surgery, months of rehabilitation, and a temporary setback that changed his life.
It was during this time that 1st Sgt. Brian Filipowski, a U.S. Army recruiter, made a decision to not only rehabilitate his right shoulder, but also physically and mentally train himself to inspire the team members in his company.
That decision led him to become the Army Medical Recruiting Brigade’s top first sergeant for 2019.
“It was definitely a catalyst to want to compete at the highest level. Because when somebody tells you that you may never be able to do anything again, it can either push you to go that way and never do it again, or you can choose a different way,” he said.
Filipowski spent most of 2019 training to get back to a high level of fitness, as well as prepare for the annual first sergeant board. This board takes place at the end of every year at Fort Knox, Kentucky, to determine the best company first sergeant across five battalions within the brigade.
“I wanted to show the team that you can get hurt, you can have setbacks both mentally and physically, but you can bounce back,” Filipowski said. “If you put hard work and dedication into something, then you can go back and compete with the best. And I really wanted to do that to inspire the soldiers in our company that they could do the same.”
When Filipowski was selected as the brigade first sergeant of the year, he was honored because he competed with the best, and extremely humbled because all of the hard work to recover and prepare for the board had finally paid off.
Filipowski acknowledged that he would not be here in the Army without many people who have taken care of him along the way. His wife has made sacrifices to support him throughout his career. His mother has been significant to encourage him that he can do anything he sets his mind to achieve. In addition, he credits his Army mentors who remain influential in his life, as well as the Soldiers he works with to this day who continue to inspire and motivate him.
“One reason that I’ve always fallen back on is to aspire to make a change inside of a unit, and show that recruiting overall can be as simple as building a team and accomplishing the mission,” Filipowski explained. “If you focus on building a team and understand that as a leader, your job is to serve the people that you lead than the mission will take care of itself.”
The U.S. Army Medical Recruiting Company, Houston is one of three companies assigned to the 5th Medical Recruiting Battalion to recruit highly qualified, professional officers across 10 states in the country’s central-plains region, to serve as health care professionals in the Army Medical Department and chaplains with the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps.