FORT POLK — Making the transition from lower-enlisted Soldier to noncommissioned officer is perhaps the most drastic change that a Soldier may experience in their military career.

It changes the dynamic of what will be expected of them from that point forward, most critically the fact that they are now responsible for the lives of the Soldiers they lead, as well as their actions, equipment and duties.

Fifteen Soldiers from the United States Army Medical Department, Dental Activity, and the Fort Polk Veterinarian Clinic were recognized for transitioning into the NCO Corps during an induction ceremony June 22.

“This ceremony serves the purpose of not only welcoming the newly promoted noncommissioned officers into the corps, but also to take the opportunity to set the foundation for their success,” said Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital Command Sgt. Maj. Roderick D. Taylor.

The first aspect of the ceremony emphasized the deep-rooted history of the NCO Corps.

“The tradition of commemorating the passing of a Soldier to a noncommissioned officer can be traced to the army of Frederick the Great,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Clayton.

“Before one could be recognized in the full status of an NCO, he was required to stand four watches — one every four days.

“Today, we commemorate this rite of passage as a celebration of the newly promoted, joining the ranks of a professional noncommissioned officer corps and to emphasize and build on the pride we all share as members of such an elite corps.”

Equally important to knowing the history of the NCO Corps is understanding new responsibilities. Taylor explained several key learning points that he wanted his new NCOs to remember, including a commitment to learning, the realization that Soldiers are the Army’s greatest assets, focus on the team instead of the individual and think through problems.

“Our profession is a commitment to learning; you have to embrace this. There will always be a new process, change to a regulation or a new piece of equipment that you will need to learn about,” Taylor said. “And regardless of what anyone says about how great a piece of equipment or process is, there will always be a need for a Soldier to operate a piece of equipment or execute a mission.

“Also, you are now responsible for a team — not just yourself. And finally, think your problem through if you have the time — every problem does not require immediate action.”

Taylor said time is something that is easily spent and can never be returned.

“Your decisions as noncommissioned officers can have lasting positive or negative effects on not only your Soldiers, but also their Families and the mission; don’t take this for granted,” Taylor said.