Except for their decisions at the end, every single emotion and thought those recruiters had I did as well at some point in my time in recruiting. That story reminds me of why I'm so very,very, very glad that I am no longer in USAREC.
The recruiters were told they'd go before a panel of their superiors to defend the work ethic at their stations.Been there, done that. It wasn't unpleasant enough to prompt to me kill myself, but it was damned unpleasant. Worse, it was counter-productive. Nothing useful came out of it, aside from the satisfaction of making recruiters miserable.
"The way he told me it went down is the sergeant major kept pressuring him to say he's a failure and that he wanted to quit so it would make it easier for her to get rid of him from recruiting altogether or even out of the Army, basically chaptering him out of the Army," Heinrich said. "To be honest, that's something that's threatened on an almost daily basis out here."I've heard those threats plenty of times as well. Not always directed against myself, but once or twice they were. It's a brilliant tactic. Challenging your Soldiers to admit that they suck and to quit worked quite well in Basic when it really was a matter of confidence and over-coming adversity. Telling a combat veteran or someone with a decade-plus experience in the Army the same thing is just likely to tick them off enough to resent the person making such a canned speech. Of course, such leadership tactics jive with my long-held belief that some leaders in recruiting have the leadership skills of specialists and new sergeants since that's the rank where they left the real Army to join spend the next dozen years in recruiting. Of course, in this situation, it likely led to the death of a Soldier.
Flores had more than work stress to confront. His wife, Jennifer, later told police she'd planned to leave her husband. The couple's marriage was deteriorating under the strain of his long hours and other job-related problems, she said. He'd told her he felt like a failure at work and couldn't take it anymore.Been there too. The marriage problems and the deep feeling of failure at mission. Just because their guilt-tripping makes you resentful, doesn't mean that's all it does. Being told you're a failure and that the Army would be better off if you'd never enlisted in the first place (I've heard that one as well) can drain on someone who has made the Army their life. And to be told that,while at the same time losing your spouse in part due to the hours and stress of the job you, apparently, suck at so bad can be like a downward spiral.
After his breakdown, Patrick Henderson was treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, police said. He was removed from recruiting duty and ordered to report to the Tyler Company headquarters until reassignment.I am sure that the CLT gave this Soldier a positive environment where his issues we accommodated. Recruiters being sent to the CLT or BLT is never a good thing. Other recruiters find out your business and you're basically trapped next to the same people who are, likely, causing you the stress which prompted your mental breakdown to begin with.Recruiters said they're proud of their Army service but feel trapped by what they describe as the Houston battalion leadership's lack of compassion.You could cross out Houston and replace it with any other battalion's name it would likely be just as true. Lost time with family. Tin-earred responses to issues in the field. Seemingly arbitrary enforcement of rules. The Buddy System working for those who are in "the know" and screwing those who are not. How the hell the Army has continued to meet its recruiting mission is beyond me. I'm scared to think that it might be because of the insanity instead of in spite of it.
"You've heard that recruiters are kind of insensitive to their recruits and tell them anything, but that pressure comes down all the way from the top," Rodriguez said. "It'll change your personality."The "Tell them anything" is a bit of pandering, but the rest is pretty damned accurate. I know that my personality changed while I was in the recruiting station. Since I left recruiting I'm calmer, happier, enjoy life more. It's a better life. Given the choice between Recruiting and any other assignment in the Army, I'll take the latter. Don't care what it is. I'll take it. I'd have taken it before I ever experienced recruiting, and I'll take it twice now that I have.
"You dread waking up and going to work," said Chris Rodriguez...Oh my god that's so very, very true. I hated when the alarm went off in the morning. Hated it. The whole drive to the station I was just thinking of the ways the day would be miserable. If I was lucky only the things I thought of would happen. Unlucky days would be ones where things I hadn't did. A miserable time which I could not accurately describe because I was too close to how much it sucked.
"You'll have no life, you'll never see your family. It's worse than a deployment because you're there with your family, but you can't spend any time with them."When the station/company/battalion would be listening to some recruiting speaker talk about how good we have it since we're home with our families and not overseas, without fail half the recruiters in attendance would lean over and whisper to the other half "yeah, but I never see them." I didn't mind that the recruiting leadership said things like that, because I understood it was something they had to do. Almost like kabuki. I minded the fact they deeply believed it to be true.
Rodriguez, 25, used to have nightmares about recruiting after he left the battalion to serve in Iraq.I still do. I wake up some mornings fearing I forgot to take someone downtown. Sometimes when the phone rings I get that twinge of dread I'd get when I was back in recruiting. I work with a couple for former recruiters, we all have similar issues. I have this one recurring nightmare which involves my planning guide that wakes me up in a cold sweat. The Army needs to come up with a health survey similar to the one they give Soldiers who come back from overseas to give to recruiters.
Also on Thursday, U.S. Recruiting Command at Fort Knox in Kentucky announced that it is "deeply concerned" and will deploy a critical response team to the battalion.I can almost hear the critical response team now. "You know what helps to reduce stress in your life? Mission accomplishment. Also, making five hours of phone calls a day is very therapeutic." There was only one person in my entire battalion who, I believe, actually cared for the recruiters' well-being. One. I could live with the battalion commander and CSM focusing more on the mission than on the Soldiers. I couldn't stand that even the staff sections didn't have one lick of concern for the Soldiers they were responsible for supporting. However, instead of caring about the mission at the expense of the Soldiers, the staff folks cared more about getting an omelet sandwich from Burger King.
I hope that John Coryn's investigation actually reveals some of the real issues and isn't greeted with the white-wash job any look into the depths of recruiting tends to become. Recruiters are the exception to the treatment which Soldiers get today. While the rest of the military is treated mostly with respect, recruiters get branded as liars by the civilian world, and as failures by their leadership. They're getting it from both ends. Recruiting will break before the rest of the Army comes anywhere near it.