Originally published on September 25th, 2007.
As a former recruiter (early 1990′s), I definitely have some opinions on that business.
While the NRD (Navy Recruiting District) was thrilled if I signed up a minority that scored in the top half percentage-wise on the ASVAB, I was never directly tasked with recruiting any specific minorities or genders. Nor do I remember the scores required to get into any specific rating different for minorities.
My Army counterpart at the ‘recruiting center’ in the town I worked in was, however – while I’d have a goal of two for a month, he’d have a goal of one female and one Hispanic, for example. If he put in 5, and couldn’t check one of the boxes he’d been tasked with, he didn’t “make goal” technically and would hear about it.
I never lied to a kid, either – my first 18 months was spent as ‘the’ Navy recruiter for a town of about 20,000. If you lie to one kid, once they come home they’ll tell everyone about it, word will spread, and you might was well close the office.
Recruiting had bad and good things about it.
Bad was the pressure if you didn’t make goal, and the division between ‘regular Navy’ guys that were doing a three year tour in recruiting and then going back to the fleet, and the “CRFers” – Career Recruiting Force guys. They had made the choice to go full-time recruiting for the rest of their careers…while not all bad, many of them would bend rules as far as they could to get someone in. Those of us that were going back to the fleet where some of these kids were going to be somebody’s problem had different opinions…you get the point.
Good was being in your home state for three years, and putting in kids fresh out of high school like the one that still keeps in touch with me 20+ years later – made Chief, went mustang, and now is a LT with a bachelors degree and a beautiful family. A Navy success story.
Oh, and I met my now wife of 16 years while I was here on recruiting duty!
Todd – did you ever see the movie Stripes – one of the main characters is asked by the Army recruiter, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony – after some thoughtful reflection, Harold Ramis’ character, asks, convicted?
I am sure you ran across some of these – kids who came from a very bad home environment but had not gotten into trouble yet – and the military ended up putting them in a positive direction they had never received before – the discipline and family they never had.
When I was in the Army 40 years ago there were a few characters for which the choice was “jail or the Army” – can’t say the Army got the better deal on that one – Don’t think they allow that any more.
Lex’s comment about institutions jading some of the people was right on – my nephew – West Point graduate – was gung ho and something happened to him – never found out what – he got out this month.
Lex’s statement We do hard every day
So succinct and yet told so much.
Bill B’s comment on a few characters for which the choice was “jail or the Army” was spot on. My first squadron tour in the early 70′s was in the RAG as Legal Officer and there were multiple discipline cases that some judges somewhere had passed on to the Navy. Would think for all those I saw there are surely those who saw the light and the Navy molded into responsible sailors. Problem is, you don’t know the success rate, and the skipper, xo, and I spent waaay too much time with the failures.
My grammar teacher would tell me I threw in a comma where it wasn’t needed. Dang.
When I was recruiting, the ‘jail or the Navy’ kind of thing was long gone, pretty much. I could get a waiver for minor things, but that was about it.
We did what was called ‘blueprinting’ with every applicant that was in the office – the usual questions on medical issues, legal issues, so on and so forth. I walked more than one kid that fessed up to something I couldn’t get a waiver on to the Army recruiter’s office….he could put them in.
I did have one kid I’ll never forget – came into my office, no job, no money to speak of and living in his car. In winter. He just literally just wanted to survive, three hots and a cot as they say. Didn’t care about what job he got in the Navy, how soon could he leave?
I never looked at us as a ‘social agency’, but I really wanted to help this kid out, he was being completely honest about what he needed and was a nice kid, just rotten luck and no family around. Hooked him up (if I remember right, got him into the fireman apprentice program, and an immediate ship out two or three days later). Not glamorous, but got him out of Dodge and a roof over his head. I also (safe to say this now, I’d have gotten hung up by my thumbs at the time) paid out of my pocket to put him in a Motel 6 for a night before putting him on a bus to MEPS the day before he shipped out, three plus hours away. I just felt bad about someone I just put in the Navy sleeping in a car overnight again…
Todd – I think the military has helped a lot of people. Never will forget this interview in the PBS Series Carrier – a young enlisted woman – grew up in a ghetto in Louisiana – by the time she was 17 or 18 hadn’t gotten pregnant nor hooked up with a gang – knew she’d better get out of there or she would –
So like your young man (if he used his Navy time wisely) it truly was a life-changer. -
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