Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Inside Baseball Part 1b

I had intended to write this yesterday, but for some reason I don't know, I was compelled to write something different. Anyways, I'm back on track and I'll go ahead and get started.

I'm pretty sure sometime in the past I'd mentioned that success in recruiting relies on making the best of the gray area between the black and white world of AR 601-210. However I do have over 400 posts spanning nearly three years, so I'm not going to go back looking for some off-hand comment I might have made in a post titled something like "Duhhhhhhhh".

I really do need to work on my post naming skillz.

I also need to work on my habit of beginning paragraphs with "I". I do it too often.


Okay, back on topic.

I learned that lesson after my Station Commander had told me to have people lie on their 2807.

Background. I was a very new recruiter and my first station commander still hadn't given up and began looking for his next assignment, so he actually took an interest in what we were doing as recruiters. One day I was working with a prior service applicant who had agreed to process and enlist. Admittedly I'd done a poor job of pre-qual. I knew he was an RE3 and would require a waiver, but I hadn't probed into the details. I was still wicked new and hadn't learned "how". Anyways, the applicant begins filling out his 2807 and asks me what he should put on it. I tell him to put down what, where, when, and what the result was. And to answer as honestly and completely as he could. After he completed this 2807 I faxed it to MEPS and went home to enjoy the rest of my Sunday (Yes, I was working on a Sunday).

MEPS wouldn't even entertain the concept of this guy enlisting. He was that disqualified. My applicant had been through ASAP and failed. He'd been in and out of alcohol counseling for years and, apparently, been clean for quite a while, but he was done. There was no way he was getting in with that history of problems with alcohol. I found myself at parade rest in the station commander's office being asked if I was trying to make him look bad or if I was just an idiot. It was an unpleasant, one-way conversation.

SSG Rage may remember this, and this was the moment I realized that he really was the best recruiter I was going to meet, but the station commander called the other recruiters in to the office one-by-one to critique the 2807 and tell me how unacceptable it was. After the last recruiter had told me that I shouldn't have even bothered with the guy (they were right), I took a seat and proceeded to have my station commander tell me that no one joins the army without lying.

I objected (GAH!).

When I was 13 years old I spent a good deal of time in the adolescent mental ward at a hospital in Houston. And I spent significantly more time with various counselors and psychiatrists. That's a story for another time. Back in 1995 when I filled out the 2807 (assuming that is what it was called back then, I can't recall) I didn't say I'd been in a hospital. Honestly, to my young self, I didn't consider it a "hospital" and it didn't ring any bells for me. However, on the 2808 it specifically mentioned counseling, psychiatrists, etc and that rung the bell so I listed it. I was DQ'd and told to get the docs related to it. Luckily my mom is a meticlious record keeper and they were submitted quickly. I got the waiver and I was enlisted, even getting a secret clearance in a MI unit. I was honest with my stuff and got in. It was delayed, which undoubtedly ruined my recruiter's day (I saw her twice and never heard from her after I enlisted), but it didn't stop me.

So, within my own military career I had prima facie evidence that not "everyone" lies on their 2807. And, to this day, I don't believe that concealing medical issues or law violations is a good idea. It's a career ender and puts you into harm's way as a recruiter. And yet the person who was going to rate me was telling me to have people lie.

But, reality is what it is.

During my many conversations with other recruiters, the question always boiled down to "Would you go to war with this person?". The only acceptable answer was an unqualified "Yes". Anything else would result in the potential applicant being kindly shown the door. Just not worth people's lives. That's what makes incidents like this so stupid. The guy required a pretty powerful drug to maintain an even keel. There was no way this would turn out good.

If you held a gun to my head and made me tell you the two conditions which I'd blur the line on they would be asthma and ADD/ADHD.

Asthma is a processing killer. If your applicant admits to an asthma-like condition any time since age 12, they're done. It's not happening. The applicant can get as many recommendations and tests they can afford. The moment the docs see "asthma", even it is proceeded by "px has no signs of", they're done. Sure, with the hundreds of people processed some will sneak through and get an asthma waiver, but it won't happen when you need it. Nothing is better than the first time you have an all city/county/state athlete DQ'd for asthma. It just makes you sit at your desk and think about whether Al Qaeda has a sleeper cell at Ft. Knox.

ADD/ADHD is a little more thorny. Supposedly all you need is a doctor's letter stating they have been off the drug for a year. Problem is, they rarely get that letter when they go off the medication. The kid just stops taking it because... whyever. And most doctor's won't just go "Sure SGT Recruiter, I'll write whatever you want on this note and sign it for you." So you find yourself in the position of having to tell Skippy Stoppedritalinatfourteen to come back in a year. Station Commanders do not like next action dates that are 365 days out. Not one bit.

In those situations common sense and the rules I thought out last year may help.

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


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