MILFORD, Mass. –
At Fort Jackson, S.C. the Finance Corps Regimental Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year board was recently held. The winners of this board are The Finance NCO and Soldier of the Year for the entire U.S. Army. The Finance NCO and Soldier of the year winners from the Active, Reserve components were there as well as the National Guard NCO of the year. The National Guard Finance Soldier of the Year; however was not there … he was at his desk at the Massachusetts National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters.
“We call him Teddy Reg.,” said Sgt. Jon Bohannon, Readiness NCO for the 101st Financial Management Detachment, ”He’s one of those guys who knows all the regulations. Nine times out of ten he is dead on, sometimes word for word.”
He is Spc. Theodore Giannino, a military pay technician with the 101st FMD.
“Taking care of Soldiers is what we do,” said Giannino, “That’s what I like doing and that’s why I stay with finance”.
When Giannino joined the Guard he wasn’t interested in being a military pay technician, he wanted to be a military policeman.
Giannino joined under the Stripes for Buddies program, unfortunately a medical issue delayed his departure; while he was waiting to clear medical he began to look at other MOS’s and stumbled upon finance. He liked what he saw, switched his MOS and never looked back.
He has been in the Guard now for 11 years, all of it in finance.
“We’re almost like a family here,” said Bohannon,”It’s not …the MOS, it’s the people you’re with. Here we care about each other and taking care of the Soldiers as well.”
It is a small “family” with very little chance of upward mobility, which according to Bohannon is one of the reasons the Giannino is still a specialist. He is not alone; there is at least one other specialist with 12 years of service as well as a sergeant who is retiring after 20 years of service. The unit used to part of the 101st Finance Battalion; the battalion has been deactivated. The detachment is all that remains.
“If you’re going to stay finance, you understand a couple of things,” said Bohannon, “One is; you’re not going to get promoted any time soon.”
If Giannino was in another component …
“He would at least be an E-6 by now,” said Bohannon, “With his knowledge … his abilities … his attitude.”
Giannino’s takes satisfaction in being a finance Soldier. “It’s something that I enjoy personally,” said Giannino, “Knowing that I can help one person or a hundred people … If you come to me with a problem, I’ll make sure that it gets taken care of. Whether it takes me 2 hours, 18 hours, 2 day’s … I’ll get an answer.”
His determination to find the answers and to help his fellow Soldiers with their pay issues are a few of the reasons he was nominated to represent the Guard.
An age old complaint from Soldiers is that their pay was “messed up” (this is an issue that Gen. George Washington’s men faced while they were fighting in the American Revolution).
Making sure these types of issues are resolved quickly is one of Giannino’s main goals. When he deployed to Iraq, he had pay issues. His wife was only receiving part of his pay.
“When I deal with Soldiers who are now in that predicament … I know the importance of it back home. If you’re worried about what’s going on at home, you can’t concentrate on what you’re trying to do over there (deployed). “
While he has had the same pay issues as many of the Soldiers he sees; Giannino never tells the Soldiers that he has had the same problems, he just tries to resolve the issue.
“There’s always something you can do. You just have to go the extra mile and put in the extra effort.”
An example of Giannino going the extra mile was when he helped four Soldiers who had not received their stop-loss pay. The pay was 10 months overdue. It took Giannino eight days of making phone calls and researching the regulations before the Soldiers received their pay. The Soldiers each received an average of $5,000 a piece.
“If you were owed five grand and somebody got it for you, you’d be happy. I was happy that I was able to accomplish that,” said Giannino.
It is his knowledge of the regulations that has served Giannino throughout his military career. These same regulations prevented him from participating in the Finance Soldier of the Year Competition. Giannino received a minor injury while he was competing in the MARNG’s Best Warrior competition and was placed on a temporary profile. All this occurred after his packet was placed sent to the National Guard’s Finance Corps Regimental NCO and Soldier of the Year board.
Unfortunately, the rules for the Army’s Finance Corps Regimental NCO and Soldier of the Year board disqualify anyone with a temporary profile from competing.While he is disappointed that he could not compete this year, Giannino isn’t discouraged. He plans on re-enlisting as a finance Soldier when this contract is up.