Thursday, August 23, 2007


I am do very hung over right now. So much pain. Let the world stop spinning.

That is all.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


This is a post I have been mulling over for ages. I'm actually semi-worried about the fact I'm writing it.

"Recruit with Integrity."

It is said over, and over, and over again. And it's meant every time it's said. And it will likely prevent the recruiting mission from being met.

The other day I was sitting in the office and one of the other recruiters was interviewing a young man. The young man was ready to go. He starts filling out the 2807 and he pauses.

Uh oh.

Asthma. Still has an inhaler. Hasn't used it in a while so he forgot to mention it during pre-qual, but still carries it.

Integrity check.

The right thing is said and done. "Sorry man, if you have asthma you're disqualified. Now if you want to enlist you need to be off the inhaler for X amount of time and a couple tests run by your doctor showing you don't have asthma." Regardless of how badly this kid wants to enlist, he's now disqualified. Sure, it's possible to get a waiver for someone who has had asthma in the past. I've just never seen one get approved. Ever. But I'm sure someone, in the all of USAREC, has had it approved.

One of my first recruiting "learning experiences" involved my previous station commander taking me in to his office, shutting the door, and telling me that no one would ever be eligible to join the Army if they were 100% honest on the 2807. He proceeded to tell me about how he lied on his enlistment (ironically, he had asthma), and then roleplayed for me the technique to get someone to conceal their disqualifications. I was stunned. The reason I was standing at parade rest while being told how to get someone to lie? I had submitted a 2807 on someone where they admitted to having been in rehab for alcohol abuse.

A week later Denver happened.

Seeing that recruiter go to Pucker-Factor: HIGH when that reporter replayed that video tape made me resolve to never be that guy.

The Army Value Integrity is defined as "Be willing to do what is right even when no one is looking." My addendum to that is "Even if no one is looking, assume someone is." While I might regret that we live in a world where some people will only uphold their integrity because they're afraid of being caught, I prefer that kind of weak integrity to a total lack of integrity. I'm a realist. Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is still doing the right thing.

I'm looking at my USAREC Talking Points and I see that, as of July, the Regular Army was 1.4% over their YTD mission. One and a half percent. 741 people.

13% of Americans have asthma. Up to 6% of Americans have ADD/ADHD. The GAO found that the services could do a better job in identifying and tracking recruiting improprities. And lastly, it's almost human nature to take a short-term benefit over a long term one. To me, this means people are more likely to risk their careers to enlist one person now, than to not enlist that person, but leave USAREC with the same rank they had when they reported.

I had talked about the recruiters in Tennessee who had told an undercover reporter to not say a thing about taking Zoloft. This was a random person walking into a nearly random recruiting station. Had that not been an undercover reporter, and instead a legitimate person walking in off the street, they'd have probably enlisted him, and the Army would be at 742 people over the YTD mission.

Here we are in Year 6 of the War on Terror. Six years of combat operations. Six years of recruiting volunteers in a war. A war which is not popular. A war which is, for the most part, not reported on competently or honestly. The margin for success in this recruiting enviroment is razor thin. And the success we have had to this point has been accomplished by permitting a much broader swathe of the population to enlist, and using a very, very big carrot.

The mission isn't going to go down. We're not going to wake up tomorrow and see that "terror" has stopped and everyone can go home. You can't make someone volunteer for the Army. Volunteering is a binary decision. You do or don't. You want to or you won't. If a recruiter "makes" someone enlist, 9 times out of 10 they're just enlisting a Future Soldier loss. MG Bostick said that only 16% of the market would consider volunteering for the Army. Let alone actually enlisting, or meeting the qualifications for enlistment. That is a pathetically small percentage of people from which to recruit.

I've worked with recruiters for a good chunk of my career. Back when I was a PSNCO I had to deal with recruiters looking for acceptance letters, etc. When I worked in Retention, most of them were former recruiters. And now I am one. Stories about Gold Seal, ringers, telling people to shut-up about some disqualification flowed from the recruiters I knew from back in the day. They were badges of "honor" for them. The feeling I got was that you weren't a real recruiter until you'd done you first impropriety. These were recruiters who recruited back when the FBI check took weeks to get back, and it was possible to get In-DEP waivers. And this was back when the Army was so far ahead of the game that the only contracts which counted for anything were Grad/Senior Alphas.

If I were to read a GAO report which said that the Army improperly enlisted 741 people who were actually disqualified, I wouldn't bat an eye. It wouldn't shock me. I don't even know if it would upset me anymore. As I said, while I wish we lived in a perfect world, I know we don't.

Take a look at Page 27 of the GAO report. It's a chart of when recruiting irregularities occur. Guess what? The end of the month is when most recruiting irregularities occur. Color me shocked. Imagine that. The end of the month is when most recruiters send down people who are unqualified. I wonder why? Those are just the ones that were caught.

I have no idea how many recruiting improprieties go undiscovered. Lord knows that the docs are MEPS are damned good at getting people to talk about things they never mentioned to me, so I'd like to think that most are caught. But still... one and a half percent was the margin for error.

With 6,000 recruiters recruiting 69,500 people (RA and USAR) in 10 months, I find it stretches my disbelief to think that every irregularity has been uncovered. 2% of recruiters had a substantiated impropriety in 2005. These were people whose fraud was discovered, investigated, and determined to have been intentional. What goes undiscovered?

I recruit with integrity. I've done some stupid stuff in my life, but the people I'm putting in the Army are, as best as I'm able to determine, fully qualified. They might need a waiver, but I get the waiver. SFC SC2 tells us frequently how important it is to do the right thing. I preach it as often as I can as well. SSG George, SSG Tomas, SSG Tree, and the rest of my recruiting station do our human best to find people who we'd want next to us in combat. It's difficult work to do the hard right over the easy wrong. We finished last month one, one short of mission box. One freaking contract. We could have had that one if we'd told that kid to shut-up about his asthma.

When I go into the office to work on what should have been a day off, I'm doing it knowing full well that it could have been avoided if another recruiter had been willing to convince an applicant to lie. As much as I hate having to work on a day I really, really wanted off, I prefer this to the Sword of Damocles which is an applicant who is lying at your suggestion.

Here's the rub though. Recruiting with integrity doesn't get you the day off.

You don't get credit for doing the right thing. It's a flaw of human nature really. No one remembers the surgeon who does everything right, but if they don't account for a sponge, everyone knows about that. The tens of millions of people who go through life without a disease because of a very good vaccine aren't remembered when three families take the drug company to court over their child's freak allergic reaction to the drug. Being the good guy in the movies lets you save the day and get the girl. Being the good guy in the real world gets you nothing.

Recruiting with integrity doesn't get you out of having to complete a 50 page Excel spreadsheet on why you were a low producer. You can't tell your station commander that the reason you didn't write X contracts was because you didn't find enough qualified people and you weren't willing to tell an unqualified person to shut the heck up. You can't point out that the number of people who are morally, medically, and aptidutinally (is that a word?) qualified, and who also want to enlist is very small, and that finding one at any given moment is, essentially, random.

Being told to "recruit with integrity" is simple. It's abstract. You're not dealing with a specific. I've always been curious how it would be dealt with if, instead of it being abstract, it was specific.

What is the answer when presented with the scenario of "If Ms. Snuffette doesn't reveal her asthma, then the company will box." There is no other choice. It's mission day. Ms. Snuffette is it. She enlists, company is successful. She doesn't, failure. Push the scenario up. Suppose that the Army was going to 500 people short of making the YTD mission. Just 500 people. If every recruiting station just had one person who shuts-up about something, then the Army meets it's recruiting goal.

That was a real scenario for this station last month. One person. One person enlists and I'm not working today. We made our choice, and we're paying the price for it. It's a price I'm glad to pay, but man, I'd have loved to be off today.

Anyway, enjoy your weekend. You're welcome to come over for a BBQ.


I removed a couple sentences which I just really, really didn't like. They didn't fit with what I'd thought I was writing, so they were removed.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Return of the Patriot

No, this is not about my screenplay for a sequel where Mel Gibson's Benjamin Martin returns to avenge the murder of his family at the hands of the British during the War of 1812. However Mel, if you're reading this, give me a call back.

The world of blogdom just got a shot in the arm. Holly, formerly of Politics of a Patriot, has returned to the fold. Her new blog is, cleverly, titled Politics of a Patriot.

Seriously Holly, you couldn't have thought of a better name? Maybe next time you could ask for some suggestions.

I'd like to take this moment to welcome Holly back to the blogging world. She has accomplished a lot of good things. Her work supporting Marines is an inspiration. Her devotion to her country and her desire to serve is admirable. Her addiction to prescription painkillers is lamentable, but we all have our faults. Plus, when she washes the pills down with SoCo, she'll sometimes lift her shirt up for anyone who asks, and that has value.

The Hollyless blogging world was a cold, harsh one. I was only able to persevere the dark times through the occasional emails Holly would send to her well-wishers. Her trials and tribulations as she sold pink phones to Soldiers made us laugh. When she cut her hair to try out for a role in "CATS", it made me care about musicals for a brief second. When she asked me for my bank account so she could send me my share of a fortune she has in Nigeria, it made me suspicious.

Many of us have been touched by Holly.

Er... well.... Holly's writing.

It is a joyous occasion now that she has been returned to us. I'm sure we'll all check back daily for the latest updates about her quest for love, joy, happiness, and those damned kids who will never let her just eat her Trix in peace. So please, join me in welcoming Holly back.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Helping and Not Helping

As if to prove a point from the previous post, I checked my email this morning and there was a lead waiting for the entire station. We had a new "Hot" Lead waiting for us. The person had been a FS Loss, and had a history of mental illness, prescription medication usage, and law violations. None of that was mentioned in the information provided to the "refinement" center. Not one whit. To look at the information we' been provided you'd think that this lead was the hottest one ever and was just itching to go. Maybe they are, maybe they are not, but they are wicked unqualified and would be a waste of a recruiter's time to contact.

To make it worse, this individual is a liar. They lied to my face, to the recruiter's face, to the station commander's face, and even to their family. Apparently they continue to lie as their pre-qualification questions all say they have a clean background with no issues. If we hadn't enlisted this person before, we'd have known none of this from the lead information we'd been sent.

I know recruiting is painfully tough and our ability to accomplish out mission is contingent upon finding someone, anyone, who is willing and able to serve. However pushing down someone who is not only unqualified, but is known to be unqualified is not helping. We're lucky that the lead went to my station instead of another one because they'd have likely enlisted this person and either take the FS loss or be investigated when they went crazy at Basic.

However, while the lead generation system seems to be broken there is hope on the horizon.

Today we got our new computer. It's not a "new" new computer, but a computer we didn't have before. Apparently someone at USAREC got the idea that, rather than turn in old desktops, they could be given to recruiting stations as machines dedicated to March2Success. We've also installed the EST on it so we no longer have to lose a laptop when someone is taking the EST. Now, when we have Mr. Motivated CAT4, they can come in to our office and use that computer to do their studying. I don't know how often it will help us move someone from CAT4 to Bravo, but if it works with one, really, that's a success for us.

This is really unnecessary sniping on my part, but it sure would have been nice to have had this system before the last month of the recruiting year. However better late than never.

Anyways, it's late, I'm tired. Have a good one.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

4th and Goal from the 45

The scenario in title is a situation I found myself in once when I forgot to pause Madden when I ate dinner. I came back and found that Delay of Game penalties took my once goal-line play to the bad side of the 50 yard line. I went ahead and tried for it anyways, and failed miserably. Not only did I not make it, my WR was injured on the play and wound up missing the rest of the game.

When I read the comment from "Blah" in my last post, it reminded me of that time in my living room way back in the glory days of pre-USAREC. Blah is talking about a HUGE bonus available for people who agree to ship by 27 August 2007. This Quick Ship bonus is, with few qualifications, a $20,000 bonus for anyone, regardless of MOS, who agrees to ship for Basic prior to the end of August. In my office we've seen $40,000 bonuses for bravos going in to Combat Service Support MOS's. This is ridiclious money and it's money available just to get someone to ship. Blah refers to it as desperate, and I can't help but think that he's right.

I don't pay enough attention to what happens at the USAREC level stuff. All I know down here in Recruiterlandia is that we're not in a good position. This feeling of mine is bolstered by the actions being taken to help us try and recover the shortfalls from the previous months.

Over 1,000 Gold Badge recruiters being called back to serve as lead generators. While Jack Army managed to escape being recalled via a risky, but brilliant strategy of being deployed to Iraq, others were not so lucky. I know two of the recruiters who were recalled. One of them was pretty grateful for the opportunity to get back out there talking to kids. I hear the other one had to be talked off a ledge.

During MG Bostick's remarks to the military personnel subcommittee of the House Armed Service Committee he mentioned that the Army has requested additional funding to create a veritable flood of HRAPs and SRAPs to further help us recruiters in making mission. The rumor I've heard is anywhere between 4,000 and 5,000 HRAPs will be going out on to the streets.

Another piece of this puzzle has been the continued application of lead refinement services. I'd mentioned this before, but never really got in to much detail on it. I simply called the numbers as they came down. Well, now there is, apparently, another company going through the bajillion names and numbers generated by recruiting and its activities and providing us in the field with things called "SuperLeads". Yes, there is no space.

I'm going to go ahead and give a little stock tip. If anyone knows who currently has the contract to refine these leads; invest in them. They have the sweetest deal on Earth. In my experience they're getting paid by the government to give me leads I've already gone through.

Today I was going through a list of these SuperLeads and saw a name that looked familiar. I checked the contact history and here is what I found.

JUN2004: No Contact. Recruiter: SFC B's mentor's mentor
SEP2004: No Contact. Recruiter: SFC B's mentor
FEB2005: No Contact. Recruiter: SFC B's mentor
MAR2005: No Contact. Recruiter: SSG B
APR 2005: No Contact. Recruiter: SSG B
MAY2005: No Contact. Recruiter: SSG B
JUN2005: No Contact. Recruiter: SSG B
OCT2005: No Contact. Recruiter: SSG B
DEC2005: No Contact. Recruiter: SFC B
APR2006: No Contact. Recruiter: SFC B
JUL2006: No Contact. Recruiter: SFC B
APR2007: No Contact. Recruiter: SSG Tree
AUG2007: No Contact. Recruiter: SGT W^3, SSG Tomas, SFC B

I wish I was exaggerating. And those are just the ones that were recorded on this particular record. But, it is a SuperLead, and as such, someone with a high propensity to enlist. So high in fact that we need to report back daily on where we are in their enlistment process. Disregard the fact this individual has no apparent interest in contacting the Army themself (they also happen to live about two blocks from the station), there is nothing in this record to imply that it has changed one whit since I last attempted to contact them over a year ago. It's the same phone number. Same address. Same everything. There is no indiciation that the company refining these leads has contacted this person at all. But it's being fed to me as a SuperLead and worthy of nothing less than the best and most urgent attention of the recruiters in the office.

This isn't the only such lead either. Another SuperLead is so old that the person didn't just enlist before we got the lead, they reenlisted. The email address for this person is their AKO email address. How the heck did this thing pass any sort of screening?

I really, truly appreciate the efforts of those above and around me to help accomplish my mission, but a SuperLead like that is one I can do without. I could grin and laugh about it were it an exception, but I'm yet to find a SuperLead which was anything but someone wasting time submitting it. How is it that these leads can, apparently, be easily contacted by a person calling from a phone bank in Whoknowswhere, USA and yet are never home, regardless of what time a recruiter calls, or drops by in person. What secret sause do the lead refinement people have which makes them impervious to people not being home?

Anyways, it was a long, hard day in recruiting. With a week to go I remain behind the eight ball. I'm lucky though in that I'm actually on the table. Some of my teammates are so far behind that they haven't even shown up at the metaphoric bar where I'm playing metaphoric pool. If I was actually ahead of the game I'd be passing out what I could to help, but I'm going to get what I need by the skin of my teeth, if I get it at all.