This is the second part of the interview from yesterday, June 27, The Unsung Hero of the Army Part 1
A recruiter will typically work five to six days a week “and generally speaking probably a good 12 to 14 hours in a day.” In the Army they typically have regular 9 to 5 work weeks with doing PT first thing in the morning. The reason they work 12 to 14 hour days is “it’s a part of being set up in the civilian area. We have to work around other people’s schedules. In order to sit down and talk to them about the opportunities which are with the Army. We may have one guy or girl who may have to work during the day or particularly high school seniors in that instance. Generally speaking, their parents aren’t home until 5 or 6 o’clock in the evening and they don’t get out of school until three. So were working late hours because that’s when they’re available to talk to”
He will have been a recruiter for 8 years in September. Before becoming a Station Commander, he did recruiting for the first two years. He then became the head recruiter at Pulaski station for a couple of months when “the current Station Commander ended up having some personal problems.” Then he went to DeKalb for approximately 3½ years. He is currently the Station Commander of the Oak Lawn Recruiting Station since February 1, 2008.
He went on to say that “a Station Commander is just a veteran Recruiter who is in charge of coaching, mentoring, training the recruiters in that station to accomplish their tasks.” He assists them in all of their tasks and helps to run the day to day organization and operations of his station.
He enjoys “the ability to assist others in being successful. Not only in my recruiters but people in general. Just our applicants; the people who end up joining the Army. You end up being a big brother to different young ladies and men you put in.”
As a Station Commander and recruiter he has put in about four to five hundred soldiers from his different stations, of which 124 he has personally put in. 80 to 90% of the soldiers he has put in come back to say how they are doing and “almost 100% are happy with the decision they made – it’s not a bad deal.”
He is not sure but thinks about 75% of the people he has put in have probably been deployed with only about 50% going to a combat zone. I asked him an incredibly hard question about whether he had known anybody to be killed in a war time situation or hurt? He said, “I know for a fact that two were injured and one was killed in actions that I know of.” When asked how well he knew them, he said, “Very well. We knew them and their families. Part of what I was talking about before was getting involved in their lives and not taking after my recruiter. To be heavily involved in their decision and to explain all the right, the good, the bad, and all of that. Because of that I get real close to their families.” I wondered if the families appreciate his hard efforts and he said, “I know they do. I cannot count on both hands how many times I’ve had people come back and thank me – whether it was a family member or the actual soldier itself. Part of what makes the job rewardable.”
Even though recruiting is a touch job, “it’s rewarding in its own way. Like I said before, you help people out and you can see the change in people. And more importantly, even the family members who have known them obviously longer than I have can see that change. A lot of times I get thank you letters or calls or a couple stop in the station to thank me.”
The thing he likes best about the Army is the “camaraderie. You get so close and so tight with people that you work with because you’re doing something out of the ordinary; not every individual person in the world does [this]. First of all, it is very hard to get in. Most people don’t realize how hard it is to actually join. Or for those that have joined, that you guys are working and doing something different. Basic training, for instance, you’re doing something completely out of the ordinary. You get extremely tight bonds. And I can literally say that I’d give the shirt off my back [for them]. There are people in the Army that I would step in front of a bullet for without thinking twice. The reality of it is its brotherhood – the world’s largest fraternity. And you end up doing whatever you have to do to protect those guys – to protect the people. I wouldn’t go to war necessarily because I want to sit there and, you know, slaughter anybody or kill babies or whatever you want to call it. I want to go there to help defend [our] nation’s ideals. They’ve already proven they can come over here and hurt us. So I would want to protect my family. I don’t want them coming here. And then if I were ever found in that situation where I had to shoot or be shot, I’m there helping to protect the guys that I went with. Like I said, it’s a brotherhood. It’s very hard to explain unless you’ve been in some kind of situation like that.”
With recruiting it is “the ability to help people and to see the change. Not just to help them but to actually see the change in different people. I’ve had kids that we’ve literally saved their life because they joined the Army. Where if they had stayed in Chicago even a month later, the group that they used to hang out with would get caught in a drive by shooting and they would’ve ended up dying in that situation. In general, I’ve seen a significant change in everybody I’ve put in. Whether it’s more direction, or more goal setting ability, or whatever the case might be.”
The camaraderie in recruiting is special because “not only do you have a group of people that have done that hard core stuff with you that you’ve really got tight with but now on top of that you’re literally in one of the hardest jobs in the Army. You’re out here telling the Army story. Talking to people who may have never even thought about the military, and explaining to them the situation. Explaining to them what is out there for them and assisting them. I mean realistically, they put themselves in the Army. We still have a job to do. We still have a mission to make. And that makes it even harder. But here we are even doing a harder job. Now it’s even the same thing [and] you get really tight because not only are you in the Army but you’re also doing one of the hardest jobs in the Army.”
When asked about when and if he was going to retired, he said, “Technically, I can retire within four years on a reserve retirement because I spent those couple of years in the reserves. But my goal is to retire as an active duty solider. So it’s gonna take me about six more years to retire on an active duty pension. Depending on the situation at the time, I plan on retiring. I’ve had fun doing it. But I want to pursue some other options.”
He feels that all most all people would get something out of being in the Army. “In general, I would say 95% of the time, to include my own sisters and brothers, I think the Army can do something for anybody. In any number of different ways you could look at that. Whether it could give them personal growth, professional growth, money for school, what have you. I think it could do a world of good for anybody.”
In closing, I asked him one final question: “What closing thought would you give to someone about the Army?” He said, “Nothing in the world is handed to you. The problem with today’s society, and particularly Americans, is that we really take things for granted. I can say this because I have been to third world countries – I’ve seen what and how the rest of the world lives. We walk down the street everyday without batting an eye about whether or not we’re going to get mauled or what have you. Half the stuff we say is freedom of speech where as with third world countries those freedoms are non-existent. People would get seriously put in jail or killed for saying half the stuff that we say here in America for free. My closing statement would be: don’t take anything for granted. Live life to the fullest because you never know when it’s gonna end. And when you have something that can give you the different things that we’ve talked about: the college money, the job experience, the military experience; it would forever set you up for success in future endeavors regardless of whatever you decide to do.
 Physical training