Army recruiters visit Camp Hovey, hoping to boost their own ranks
CAMP HOVEY, South Korea — Multiple deployments have made Army recruiting more difficult than before the war on terror but they may be making finding new volunteer recruiters easier.
Recruiters Sgts. 1st Class Neftali Perez and Jeffrey Peterson came to South Korea last week to sell soldiers on the job specialty, hooking several prospects with a rare commodity in today’s Army: a nondeployable post for three years in a choice location.
“A lot of soldiers want to join up for the stability along with the change of pace,” Peterson said.
It may be the biggest reason why many soldiers who have served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan are considering switching to recruiting, Perez said.
Stability aside, soldiers at Camp Hovey on Thursday indicated they were well aware of the numbers and media scrutiny paid to Army recruiting since the wars began.
Army recruiting numbers fell well short of goals in fiscal 2005, although they have shown signs of rebounding in 2006. The Army also mandated a recruiter standdown day in 2005 after news reports exposed unethical tactics among some recruiters.
“We do receive some mixed emotions about that,” Peterson said. “They know recruiting is getting tougher these days.”
The Army combats those perceptions with fast promotions and financial gain for almost every good recruiter, Perez said.
Recruiters receive $450 per month in nontaxable special-duty pay. They also get perks such as free dress and utility uniforms, a government vehicle and a small expense account.
Promotion boards selected 92 percent of all staff sergeants in recruiting specialties to E-7 last year, compared to a 36.6 percent Army average, Perez said.
Meeting recruitment goals also kicks in automatic meritorious promotions, he said.
The incentives make up for what Perez admits can be a stressful job.
Soldiers used to a world full of regimentation and order-taking may find their new environment shocking.
“You are not in charge of anybody but yourself, which is a good thing,” Perez said, adding that recruiters work a lot of late hours. The job gets busiest when the high school day ends and may not wind down until 9 p.m.
Top recruiters always have a business card handy, even on a weekend grocery run or a trip to the mall, Perez said.
Maybe toughest of all, they must have an answer when they walk into a recruit’s home and Mom says, “I don’t want my baby to go to Iraq.”
“‘I understand how you feel,’ you tell them,” Perez said. “Then you show them evidence that not everyone in the Army deploys.”
New recruiters who have been deployed also will be able to tell their own stories and work better with concerned parents, he said.
Sgt. Louis Davis, who attended Thursday’s briefing, said he believes the wars would not deter most future soldiers. “Not as long as you tell them the truth,” Davis said.
Sgt. Juan Aguado said he often talks about deployments with teenagers while on vacation in East Los Angeles.
He tells them that yes, they may have to kill the enemy. He says that it is a job done without hatred and something done for a far better cause than what many teens are involved in right now on the streets.
“When I go home, I normally get two or three kids to join,” Aguado said. “I’m trying to go out there and give them what I’ve got.”
To find out more about recruiter specialty requirements, go to www.usarec.army.mil/hq/recruiter or e-mail Perez at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recruiting, by the numbers
During January, the active-duty Army recruited 8,337 new members, 103 percent of its goal; the Army National Guard hit 113 percent of its goal, while the Army Reserve fell short at 96 percent of its goal.During fiscal 2005, which ended in September, the Army had met 92 percent of its active-duty recruitment goals, with 73,373 new soldiers joining the force. The mission goal was to recruit 80,000.At the end of fiscal 2005, the Reserve had recruited 23,859 soldiers, 84 percent of its goal of 28,485.A total of 50,219 soldiers joined the Guard’s ranks by the end of fiscal 2005, 80 percent of its goal of 63,002.Sources: www.army.mil, American Forces Press Service