FORT POLK, La. –
1st Sgt. James Buchanan, will represent Regional Health Command-Central and Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital in the U.S. Army Medical Command 2021 Best Leader Competition at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, July 25-30.
Buchanan earned the title Best First Sergeant in May after finishing first in the RHC-C competition. If he wins this week he will go on to represent MEDCOM in the Army NCO of the Year Competition in the fall.
“Best first sergeant means, just that,” he said. “I beat out the others in the region. They were tough competitors and it was a lot of fun, but in the end there can only be one winner. It’s a matter of pride for me, and my team here at BJACH, to hold this title.”
Buchanan, a native of Watertown, Wisconsin, enlisted in the Wisconsin National Guard in 1999 for the education benefits. He said he always knew he’d join the military.
“I wanted to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps,” Buchanan said. “He was a Marine during World War II.”
He said he picked the military occupational specialty of combat medic because he didn’t like the other two options his recruiter presented. He said he knew the skills learned as a medic would help him in the civilian sector.
Buchanan says there is nothing to lose by participating in competitions like this.
“I tell my Soldiers that competitions are an opportunity to set yourself apart from others,” he said. “There are plenty of people who are just passing the time, I say, ‘seize the chance’ to be better... Bottom line--be someone who takes a chance. You never know where that road will lead.”
Buchanan takes his role as first sergeant very seriously. Setting an example for both his Soldiers and his children is what motivates him on a daily basis.
“My most important role is being the right example for my Soldiers,” he said. “I try to always be present for them, have a good character to emulate, and provide discipline and guidance when needed.”
Buchanan said humility is an important part of being a leader, and that he understands the importance of always learning and being receptive to new ideas.
“I want my Soldiers and children to see that hard work pays off,” he said. “A strong work ethic, integrity and serving one’s country is a very honorable pursuit.”
Buchanan hopes to bring the MEDCOM Best First Sergeant title back to BJACH and Fort Polk.
“The thing I love most about Fort Polk and BJACH is that I have time for my family,” he said. “My Soldiers are great, and in most instances I’ve seen more discipline from them than the other Soldiers stationed here.”
Buchanan also wants his Soldiers to see that you are never too old to “get after it.” In addition to military competitions, he has earned an associate degree from Central Texas College and is a member of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club.
“I want my Soldiers to know that Senior NCOs are not old and broken,” he said. “I want to set a good example for them that it is never too late to try something new, to learn different skills, go back to school or participate in competitions like this.”