Friday, August 26, 2005

A Great Offense

I must have greatly offended the recruiting gods in some way, shape, or form. Maybe I ran over their puppy, or effed their daughter. I mean, this is insane. I haven't put anyone in the Army in going on two calendar months. In the mean time I've had four people, four seemingly solid people, drop out on me. I had the guy who couldn't hear, the guy with a ton of fines which he told me about the day before he was to hit the floor, the guy who was way underweight (who has now ran away from home), and this week the final nail was driven into my heart by a prior service IRR to TPU transfer (something so easy it's called a "paper contract") back out on me. He committed to transfer form the IRR to a Reserve unit on Thursday. Because my battalion Reserve ops guy was on leave his job wasn't pulled until Tuesday. Those four days were enough for him to decide that he was happier in his underpaying, dead-end job than being back in the Army. So he back out. A freaking paper contract decides he doesn't want to enlist. Luckily I'm very cynical and hateful so I'm able to easily imagine how my performance could be worse.

Luckily for me USAREC's "One in the bush is worth two in the hand" mentality is working for me. Shortly after I arrived at the RS I realized that people who put contracts into the Army get a single day of being left alone. And if you don't put someone in the Army you get a single day of being punished. You have to go to the CLT and speak w/ the 1SG. You have to get some training with the RT, and then you're done. Sure you'll take some heat for not having anyone in, but it's minor. And that is the punishment for failing to put someone into the Army. However, if you fail to look like you'll be able to get someone into the Army your life changes significantly.

Failure to make appoints, failure to get a person to say "Yes, I will come to your office" is a cardinal sin. It's 9th circle of Hell stuff to not make appointments. Failure to make appointments is tantamount to treason in the eyes of USAREC. Only slightly less traitorous is failing to conduct appointments. Making and conducting appointments is a daily thing. If I fail to make or conduct an appointment I am beaten that day. So, from what I've seen, the most important thing to do is to make it look like you have a ton of people ready to join.

All that the 79R (career recruiter) is capable of seeing is the potential. They look at a processing list and see nothing but roses. A kid has a DUI, a possession of pot charge, an assault charge, and is 10 pounds overweight? To the 79R it's a couple sheets of paper and the kid is in. They don't see the pain and suffering the recruiter will go through trying to track down the revealed charges, the inevitably hidden charges, and then overcome the fact that the kid is a lazy, over-eating stoner. Every prospect is a future future Soldier to a 79R. If the kid fails to enlist it isn't because the kid is a flakey loser who will be arrested for grand theft auto and gang-raped in prison soon. It's because the recruiter didn't work hard enough to get him in. An appointment is a contract to the station commander. Hence why, even if you have nothing in the Army, if you're making appointments you're good to go because you have the potentional to write 10 contracts. I hate that.

When they put the focus on making and conducting appointments that is what I will do. If I'm going to be made to stay until 2200 until I make a senior, I guarantee the moment your back is turned I will be pulling a name off the LRL and making an appointment. Sure I'm putting trash into my box to do so, but damnit, either I put trash in my box or I get beaten. I'll go for trash every time.

I had a station commander tell me that "There are only two reasons people are not in the Army. Either they're unqualified, or they are ignorant." I always nodded my head and said "hooah" when he uttered that sage advice, even though I didn't agree. I've seen it too many times, the Army is not for everyone. It's a hard, frustrating, occasionally dangerous job. 99% of the time what anyone in the Army does is no different from what someone gainfully employed in the civilian world will do. It's a bit of a stretch but even 11Bs have some civilian-world carryover. It's that 1% that keeps people from joining the Army.

I've thought long and hard about what that 1% is. It's important that I figure it out because it's what keeps people who would otherwise enlist from enlisting. And it's my job to get them to enlist. It sounds so easy. 1%. One measly percent. What makes up that percent? What is so different about being a 42A Human Resources Specialist than a clerk for a corporation?

Some people like to say they hate being told what to do.

Buddy, there is only one career on Earth where you won't have anyone telling you what to do. And that is being a homeless bum.

Some people like to say their wife/husband or girl/boyfriend will leave them if they enlist.

Buddy, if s/he'll leave you for making what is probably the smartest decision you will ever make, you're better off.

Some people like to say they want to go to college first.

Buddy, fewer than half of all college students will complete their four-year degree within six years of enrolling. At least if you're in the Army Uncle Sam is paying for your education, whether you complete it or not. Heck, I think veterans are more likely to complete their degree anyway. Something about being more mature, motivated, and dedicated.

Why all these excuses? What is that 1%? What is that sliver of a reason for people not joining the Army? Then I thought of it.

I fly a lot. My family is in Texas and my in-laws are in New England. I've got friends in OK, SC, and MA. I'm also a bit over the average height for an American male, so when I fly I always try to get the exit row since it has a bit more room. When you sit in an exit row one of the things they ask you is if you feel you're capable of operating the door in the event of emergency. I've seen people who had to be moved because they did not feel they were capable of performing the simple duty of "pull handle, move hatch."

That is the 1%. I'm sure many people will snipe that people don't want to enlist because they don't want to get killed. As I've said life is dangerous. Heck, in Arizona a couple of cart-pushers in a Wal-Mart were gunned down for no freaking reason. If someone is so afraid of being killed they should probably stay away from their car. Fear of injury or death isn't the 1%. The 1% is something else.

Most of the people asked to move from the exit row were young men and women in seemingly good health. There was no apparent physical reason for them to not be able to fulfill the pull/move obligation. So it must be mental. It is a fear of being responsible for other people's lives. It is my opinion that is the 1%.

If you spend enough time in the Army you will be responsible for the lives of someone else. Whether it is a fellow Soldier or a civilian who is in harm's way, you will have to expose yourself to danger to save them from harm. That is what is truly frightening. Despite the growth of the victim society, most people are still mature enough to accept responsibility for their own actions and life. But when asked to take responsibility to someone else's they, like the people in the exit row, balk.

I can't begrudge someone for not having the resolve to take such an important responsibility. My former SC believed that anyone who was knowledgeable would want to join the Army. I disagree with that philosophy. I'm sure that anyone who takes the time to learn the programs and benefits would want to join, but I have my doubts over whether everyone who would want to join, who is qualified to join, should join. Don't get me wrong. If you are qualified for the Army, and you want to be in the Army, I will put you into the Army. Whether I think you have "it" or not. However, if you're qualified, knowledgeable of what you're doing, and still say "no", I won't brow beat you. I won't call you every week for a year asking "now". I will occasionally follow-up because people change their minds, but I won't make it my life's goal to force you to do something you don't want to. I feel that if you don't think you're adult enough to be in the Army, you're probably right.

Anyway. I've got a long night remaining as I square away a serious offense waiver packet for someone I hope will, someday, join the Army. He wants to join badly, but since I'm on the Recruiting God's blacklist I shall never put in another contract until I sacrifice enough virgins to appease them.


Mauser*Girl said...

Very good post, and you've hit so many things right on. The Army isn't for everyone, and it's ignorant of the chain of command to assume that you can magically make people enlist who don't want to enlist. Some people just don't want it, no matter what money or training you're offering.

And honestly, I think some of the chains of command need to get their heads out of their behind. If you write a contract but haven't made any appointments, isn't the fact that you have a contract more important? I thought the point was putting people in boots, not pulling people that won't even meet prequal requirements into the office just to say that you've made and conducted an appointment.

That's my two cents, anyway.

sgt c said...

I totally agree with you 100%. I've been recruiting for over 4 years now and its every month something new. 1 month it will be to make the MAP, the next month will be contact milestones, the next month something else, but don't forget the all too important contract you better write. Or in the case of my station it better be 2 or your going to low producer training

SFC B said...

I hate failing. Leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But USAREC stacks the deck against the recruiter. There are too many ways in which we can be called failure. Production, MAP, milestones, Sr. milestones, grad milestones, and I'm sure there are plenty others I haven't thought of or been introduced to.

There simply aren't enough hours in the day, or motivation in an unmedicated body to make someone successful on everything. You make appointments you get chewed for not making conducts.
Enough conducts?
Short on testers.
Enough testers?
Your TNE list is too long, so you're not enlisting enough people.
You get a GA and an other?
You need 2 GAs.
2 GAs?
You need a senior.
It goes on and on and on and on. When you put in the magical contract, not only do you start the whole make/conduct/test circle over again, but NOW you get to do it while worrying about the weight on the little butterball of a senior.

Honestly, they almost make it less painful to NOT put someone in. Low producer training only lasts a day. Recruiting scars you for life.

JACK ARMY said...

"Recruiting scars you for life."

I'm hoping that I can bury and hide those scars now that I'm leaving USAREC behind me. I'll always be sympathetic to detailed recruiters and in the future I will post recommendations for changes to USAREC that I think could help the organization, but as it is configured and operates now, it tears good NCO's apart and spits them out with a care about their careers, mental health or family.


JACK ARMY said...

oops, change "with" to "without" near the end of the last sentence.

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