JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - Anyone who knows Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Thomas, a recruiter assigned to Navy Recruiting District San Antonio at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, knows he is not afraid to talk to people, unless he has to talk about himself. This humility has served him well in both his military and civilian careers.
In 2003, Thomas joined the Navy, a decision he attributes to not having much as a kid growing up in San Antonio.
“I came from a low income household, so I knew the Navy would be the only way I would be able to afford college and maybe someday fulfill my childhood dream of becoming a police officer,” said Thomas.
Thomas is a man of few words when broached with the topic of his personal life, but there is a lot to tell for a Sailor who has worn as many hats as he has. During his first tour in Bahrain on the USS Tarawa (LHA-1), he apprenticed as a corpsman, but when given the opportunity to attend Master-at-Arms School he decided to change his rate.
Working as a master-at-arms, or MA, gave Thomas the experience he would need later when he became a commissioned police officer for the state of Texas.
“Being a MA gave me the opportunity to train as a K-9 handler and a jailer, so I now have my K-9 and jailers licenses for the state,” Thomas said.
In 2007, Thomas left active duty and decided to join the Navy Reserve; it was during this time that he also went through the rigorous training to become a police officer.
After eight years working as a police officer and as a MA in the Reserve, Thomas decided to enter the Canvasser Recruiter Program, or CANREC.
A consummate professional, Thomas routinely utilizes his years of practical experience in law enforcement to assist the command's Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection planning and execution ensuring the safety of all hands.
“Thomas is an exemplary and professional Sailor with an incomparable work ethic,” said Cmdr. Jeffrey Reynolds, NRD commanding officer. “He represents the very best that a Sailor can be, is an outstanding Navy Ambassador in the local community, and is an indispensable asset to my command.”
The CANREC program is a temporary recall program designed for eligible Sailors to join the Navy’s recruiting force.
Recruiters are the face of the Navy to the civilian world and connect qualified individuals with careers within 72 ratings in both the active and reserve components.
As a recruiter, Thomas feels he has been given an opportunity to give back to the Navy that has served him so well throughout his career.
“I enjoy working as a police officer and enjoyed my time as a MA, but I have no regrets about switching over to recruiting,” explained Thomas. “In recruiting I have been able to connect with people in a different way that can change their lives for the better.”
While recruiting seems to have come easily to Thomas, he admits that it has been a difficult journey at times.
“It is not a job everyone can do, you have to be willing to put yourself out there and shake hands with new people every day,” Thomas said. “I had to learn to pay attention to detail and be willing to learn from my mistakes.”
Frequently recruiters will point to how difficult it can be in finding a balance.
Thomas is no different, he admits, he had to learn to juggle work, family life and school.
“I have an associate degree in criminal justice and I’m currently attending the University of the Incarnate Word working towards a bachelor’s degree. If it wasn’t for my wife who supports me and helps take the brunt of the family responsibilities, I would not be able to get it all done.”
Thomas has faced the challenges of recruiting. His tenacity was recognized by his leadership and in June he was promoted to the rank of petty officer first class through the Meritorious Advancement Program, or MAP.
Through the MAP program, Sailors may be promoted based on their readiness to take on the next level of responsibility and not solely on their advancement exam scores.
“I was so surprised to be MAPped,” Thomas said. “I have taken the exam many times, so it was such a great feeling to have my hard work recognized this way.”
Looking towards the future, Thomas plans to complete his degree and submit a package to convert to the Full Time Support, or FTS, Navy Career Recruiting Force program and ultimately hopes to advance to chief petty officer.
“I was very surprised to find out I was MAPped to first class. It was an awesome feeling,” Thomas said. “I couldn’t have done it without the support of my wife and my mentors at the recruiting district.”
The NCRF program is made up of a group of enlisted Navy production recruiters and recruiting managers who provide stability and leadership for field production recruiters and recruiting management personnel. Enlisted Sailors can laterally convert from the CANREC Program to the FTS Program.
For more information on Navy Recruiting and the MAP program, visit: http://www.navy.mil.