22. June 2006 · Comments Off on Fair Warning · Categories: General

The 2006 school year has ended and the class of 2007 is in the barrel. Triggers will be pulled and rounds will go down range in a couple months. This is a time of year where a recruiter’s future will hang in the balance. It’s a well established mantra in the military recruiting realm that a high school program is the key to a recruiter’s success. Knowing the administrators, teachers, coaches, counselors, and custodial staff are important parts to that success. But, where the rubber meets the road is the students themselves. In my particular station we’re preparing to launch our first foray into the newly minted senior class.

I’m not a parent, but I deal with them a lot. I’ve seen first hand the emotions that a parent can feel when they’re confronted by the military talking to their child for the first time. For my experiences it has gone both ways. Some parents are eager to get their kids into the military. When I call they wake Johnny up and tell him to talk to me, or tell me to come by and put their kid in boots and out of their hair. Others are less enthuastic and are concerned that I’m trying to take their young from them, they challenge me to prove why their child should serve. Still others are repulsed by the “US Government” that appears on the caller ID and I’m greeted with threats of violence to my person before I can even identify myself.

In my area the first attempt to contact will be starting soon. A mail out has been prepared that will go to all seniors in our schools identifying the school’s assigned recruiter, as well as listing some of the benefits of the Army and the Army Reserve. This may be a wake-up call for some parents so I figured I’d use my kindly provided pulpit to explain a couple of things, and maybe correct some misconceptions.

It’s the job of a recruiter to contact high school seniors. We’re required to do so, and we’re required to do so about three times. Once at the beginning of the year, again in the middle, and finally at the end prior to graduation. If you tell us “no” we won’t keep calling. We will keep calling though if you never answer the phone, or if you keep hanging up on us when you do answer.

Despite what someone may think all the services are not connected. We don’t share lists. This is frustrating to you as the senior/parent and me as the recruiter. You may tell the Marine recruiter “no” and the next day the Army recruiter will call. Don’t be upset that you’re getting another recruiting call a day after you just told one to leave you alone. I do empatize with your plight, between the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and the Reserve and Guard forces for all services you’re looking at a lot of “no”. All I ask is that you treat us as kindly as we will treat you.

We don’t know your child from Adam. If your child is disabled or special needs, just tell us and we’ll leave you alone. And, God forbid, they died, you have our deepest sympathies, but we didn’t realize it when we called. We’re not trying to bring up painful memories.

Your child may have different desires than you. Just because you don’t want your child to join doesn’t mean you child doesn’t want to, or at least isn’t curious. Have an open mind and at least discuss it with your younin’. If you’re still not interested, let us know.

We are able to help. All people who enlist into the Army are eligible for $4,500 a year in tuition assitance, most will be eligible for the GI Bill that can help with at least $30,000 for post high school education. It’s a rare family who can totally dismiss $39,000 for college. Even through the Reserve you’re still looking at $30,000 to help with an education.

It’s an interesting time for recruiting. We’re moving into five years of a volunteer force in an active war. It’s a challenege that’s been met for the most part. Despite a constant barrage of the horrors of combat, and a lack of reporting on the good deeds conducted, and made possible, by the men and women fighting the fight, people still continue to sign up. The plan of Al-Qaeda, our enemy, to win is to generate enough ill-will and bad-press so as to break the back of our country. The unwilling (hopefully) complicity of some major media in that plan hasn’t succeeded because of the grassroots efforts of veterans, the troops themselves, and those who support them.

Recruiting in the time is a challenge, and it’s a challenge for which I didn’t volunteer (“detailed” is a nice way of saying “dragged kicking and screaming”). But it’s a fight that is almost as important as the ones being fought overseas. When my recruiting class graduated we were graced to have CSM Michelle Jones, the Command Sergeant Major of the United States Reserve, as our keynote speaker. During her address she told us to view our time in recruiting as our deployment. That without NCOs going out and finding the next Soldiers, team leaders, squad leaders, even sergeants major any progress made in the War on Terror would be for nought. I do believe in what I do as a recruiter. I hope that some day, 20 years from now, I’ll be reading the Army Reserve magazine and recognize some 1SG or SGM as someone I enlisted. Assuming I can still remember by own name 20 years from now that is.

Anyway, parents of high school students, please be aware that the time for your children to be adults is coming. Recruiters really are just doing our duty. We’d like you to help us while we help your progeny.

As an aside, I typed this on the laptop and it has a picky space bar. If a word runs together I’m going to blame it on my equipment, not that I’m a moron who can’t type.

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