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Black Jack Soldier betters life for Family, chooses military career

Email   Print   Share By Sgt. Quentin Johnson, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
August 29, 2013 | News
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Pfc. Alejandro Plata, shown here in an Aug. 15 photo, is a human resource specialist with 2nd BSTB, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div., serving in Afghanistan. Plata is responsible for multiple administrative actions, most prominently tracking the daily movements throughout Southern and Eastern Afghanistan of more than 800 Black Jack Soldiers. Sgt. Quentin Johnson, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Working a nine-to-five job with no future wasn’t how Pfc. Alejandro Plata saw his life continuing. Instead, he pursued his desires – taking care of his Family, building a career and gaining an education, all while helping others.

Plata, a human resource specialist currently serving in Afghanistan, knew it was time to join the Army, a desire he had for some time but with some hesitation.

“I was in a job that was going nowhere, but hesitated to join the Army even though I really wanted to,” Plata said.

After speaking with his wife, Miriam, of three years and who was pregnant at the time, he said she would support his decision, especially if it meant to better their Family.

Plata knew little about the Army, but with some research, began to see planning, physical exercise and a strong mental aptitude would help ease him and his Family into military life.

“I did research on basic training, what to expect in the military and what job I had experience in while getting to help Soldiers,” Plata said.

In October 2012, Plata concluded basic and advanced individual training, marking the start of his new life in the military. He was assigned to his first and current unit – Fort Hood’s 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd “Black Jack” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

Plata said as a human resource specialist in the battalion, he would have the opportunity to help Soldiers consistently and at a greater level, something he had experience in.

“I love working with people, in a team. I always want to help people when I can and I knew having prior experience with administrative work, this job would suit me,” Plata explained.

What Plata did not expect was the amount of information and work he would have to endure to help Soldiers on a daily basis.

“When I first arrived to my unit and began work it was quite overwhelming,” Plata said. “I knew from my instructors in school that I would not know all there is in the administrative field, but not to what extent.”

He quickly learned to lean on his team and supervisors for support, learn all he could and become the most versatile clerk he could be, Plata added.

For seven months before deployment, Plata had to learn dozens of administrative actions including: updating Soldiers’ records, tracking personnel, automated filing of adverse actions, promotion board procedures, and handling Soldiers’ finance or pay inquiries.

“It was a rough learning curve, but I thank the people who helped me grow in my field, especially Spc. Alicia Anderson and Sgt. Poea Sweat, both of whom have to moved on to different units,” Plata said.

Deployed to Kandahar Air Field, less than 8 month since his arrival to Fort Hood, Plata said he has found his niche, continuing to grow in his field while taking in all the deployment experience he can.

“I was excited about deploying, didn’t have to many expectations, but wanted to learn all I can,” Plata added.

Despite the added stress of deployment and longer hours, Plata continues to track more than 800 Black Jack Soldiers’ movements and actions throughout Southern Afghanistan, he said.

His abilities and growth have not gone unnoticed making him a valuable member to his team, Staff Sgt. Donelle Hopkins, personnel noncommissioned officer-in-charge and Plata’s supervisor, said.

When a Soldier is new to the Army you expect them to understand the basic Soldiering skills and the basics of their job, Hopkins said. After six months and with good leadership, a Soldier should be advanced in his job skills.

“Plata has exceed my expectations,” Hopkins added. “He is calm in chaos, always asks important questions and a strong desire to learn.”

His integrity, competence and constant communication makes Plata an excellent future leader, Hopkins said.

Plata stated those qualities were instilled into him by good leadership and his team members. He adds the cohesion within his section is close, and the relationships are almost like a Family.

It is relationships, support from Plata’s Family and military Family that makes him desire to make a lasting career in the Army.

“The Army has made me a better person … I enjoy the military structure and what it’s done to help my Family,” Plata said.
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