FORT PICKETT, Va. — The Virginia National Guard’s warrant officer candidates hit a few milestones during their March drill weekend. On March 19th, 2021, candidates volunteered at the Chesterfield Food Bank where they helped sort, load and distribute thousands of pounds of food to hundreds of local residents. Then, on the following day, they presented their class song and sign to Col. Charles B. Martin, commander of the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute.
“Good job with the work that you’ve done here thus far,” Martin told the candidates just before giving them cell phone privileges in recognition of their hard work.
Next, the candidates will soon head to Fort McClellan, Alabama, to complete the second and final phase of WOCS.
“Looking back from October to now, it’s amazing just how much we’ve grown,” said Warrant Officer Candidate Shanna Holland, one of ten candidates enrolled in the course. Holland serves in the Virginia National Guard, but her WOCS class also includes National Guard Soldiers from Maryland and North Carolina, as well as U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers.
With candidates scattered across the region and COVID-19 restrictions in place, the candidates had to get creative in order to accomplish course requirements.
“Due to the limitations of COVID, we had to be a bit more careful than the previous classes,” explained Warrant Officer Christopher Burroughs. “We had to do social distancing, wear masks, and we used online tools for remote collaboration.”
Collaboration was a thing often required of the candidates. For both their community project and their song and sing presentations, the candidates had to work together as a team to make a plan and then successfully execute the plan.
“Everyone has different ideas and different thoughts, so it’s all about the team building and coming together and doing what’s best for the organization,” Holland said. She helped identify the Chesterfield Food Bank as an option for the class community project after a conversation with Neal Edmonds, the Virginia National Guard’s human resources director, who has been volunteering at the food bank since May 2020.
Burroughs said the community project was his favorite part of the course.
“It was a great sense of community an all the candidates came together, we all worked together and we were able to see in real time the impact we were making,” he said.
Both candidates said they are excited to enter the final phase of WOCS and elected to become warrant officers because they wanted to give back to the organization.
“I wanted to be able to give back to the Army community, and I felt that being a warrant officer would be the way I could see my greatest potential,” Burroughs said.
Holland expressed the same sentiment and said she felt like becoming a warrant officer would allow her to broaden her impact and give back more to the organization. She said her favorite part of the course, was, “the mentorship, both from other warrant officers and the candidates.” Despite the unique environment necessitated by the pandemic, Holland said the candidates still found time to work together and support one another throughout the course.
“We practiced our ruck march together, we studied together, so even though we didn’t always report to drill, we still stayed in contact with each other,” she explained.
Following successful completion of Phase III of WOCS, the candidates will return to the 183rd RTI for a Virginia-based recognition ceremony that will honor their ascent into the warrant officer corps.
For those interested in exploring Virginia National Guard warrant officer career opportunities, the Warrant Officer Strength Managers host monthly information calls the last Wednesday of every month and 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. The phone number is 701-802-5496, and the access code is 6629738. Those unable to make the call are advised to contact either Chief Warrant Officer 4 Wayne Sexton at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Chief Warrant Officer 3 Crookshanks at email@example.com