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Thread: Why I love recruiting/recruiters
04-01-03, 06:28 PM #1
Why I love recruiting/recruiters
Recruiter doesn't sugar-coat challenges of Marines
By JIM SCHLOSSER, Staff Writer
News & Record
ASHEBORO -- Jamie Morton, a Southwest Randolph High School student dressed in her Air Force Junior ROTC uniform, posed a question to the Marine Corps recruiter, Gunnery Sgt. C.B. McElvain.
McElvain stood stiff in his dress blues in the school cafeteria, behind a table covered with a red blanket bearing an eagle, globe and anchor -- the Marine emblem.
"Is the training in the Marines more demanding than in the Air Force?" Morton asked.
Years ago, someone might have whispered to Morton: "Beware!"
Marine recruiters once were notorious for painting rosy portraits of the good life in the Corps. But this is the new Corps. McElvain didn't hesitate.
"Yes!" he declared.
When Morton grimaced, McElvain asked her: "Are you up for a challenge? You have to have a lot of heart to become a Marine."
Maybe in three years, she said. She's in the ninth grade.
And that's one problem McElvain faces, and it has been magnified now that war in Iraq rages -- with the Marines engaged in some of the heaviest fighting and taking the most casualties. Those most eager to join are either too young or too old, especially the latter. Men in their 30s and 40s come into his recruiting office wanting to rejoin or to go for the first time.
Many of those within the age range of Marines -- 17-27 (some exceptions are made) -- are high school dropouts, have criminal records or health problems.
When McElvain finds a qualified prospect, parents pose the next obstacle. They balk at Johnny or Susie enlisting, especially in these perilous times.
Back in McElvain's office -- decorated with his promotion certificates and other milestones from 11 years as a leatherneck -- he opens a folder and counts.
He estimates he makes about 1,000 contacts a month at schools, on the phone, in the office. Of those, about 130 people wind up talking to him at least briefly. Of those, about 30 sit down for a serious interview. Of those, he might get two or three to sign up.
But that's enough.
The Marines Corps -- with 170,000 members it's the smallest military branch -- usually finds enough of the "few good men" and women it seeks. (Three to 5 percent are women.)
Selling the Marines to the public isn't easy. Recruiters now confront two generations -- young people and their parents -- who lack knowledge of military life or even of which branch does what.
Many people know about the Marines' bulldog image, but they don't recognize a Marine when they see one. McElvain says when he wears his distinctive dress blues -- black, stiff-collar coat with the Marine emblem and royal blue trousers with a red stripe down the sides -- "people will ask me if I'm in the Army."
Too many people think being a Marine only means "being yelled at in boot camp and going to war," McElvain says. It also means being part of an elite organization that offers structure, discipline, pride and training in various military specialties, plus money to go to college later, he says.
McElvain, who grew up in Nevada and Alabama, didn't enlist until he was 24. He had become tired of dead-end jobs.
"I was in a position in my life when I saw no future," the former resident of Boaz, Ala., says. "I needed something with meaning."
When his recruiting tour ends in two years, he'll return to his Marine Corps job as a jet engine mechanic.
Military recruiters of yesteryear had it made compared to those of today. History books relate that after traumatic events, such as the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Americans overwhelmed military recruiting offices. They were eager to confront the nation's enemies.
But patriotism wasn't the only motivator. Men knew if they didn't enlist, Uncle Sam would draft them. Volunteering meant one could choose a branch of service and have a better chance of picking a job in the military. Draftees had little say about assignments.
The draft was abolished in 1972. No fear factor nudges young men and women toward McElvain's recruiting table.
"What's going on, man?" McElvain shouts to the first student who enters Southwest's cafeteria after a bell sounds first lunch period.
The student smiles and keeps going.
"Whose ready to join the Marines Corps today?" he asks as students rush by his table where pamphlets that scream "Are You Ready to Stand Among the Proud?" are displayed along with a poster showing a lone Marine doing martial arts that says "Stealth Fighter."
Some students stop, but most only want the Marine bumper stickers that McElvain gladly gives out. He believes just being there, looking impressive, and being friendly sends a message. He has a hunch a few students seated at tables want to come talk, but don't because of peer pressure. They might call later.
A teacher, Donna Johnson, stopped to say a student she taught last year was now in the Marines. She asked if McElvain could find his address.
"I just want him to know that his old teacher is thinking about him," she said. McElvain jotted down the Marine's name.
When the bell empties the cafeteria, a worker comes over to offer McElvain iced tea. She said her son is eager to become a Marine. He's in the fourth grade and "only has eight more grades to go," she said.
"I'll be back for him," McElvain said.
The Marines' tougher enlistment requirements will shock those who served in the old Corps. Many were high school dropouts, and some had criminal records.
During the 1960s, a Marine sergeant at Camp Pendleton, Calif., was talking to several platoons who had finished boot camp, infantry training and were close to completing specialty training. Some talked eagerly of going home on leave.
"You'll be home a few days," the sergeant predicted, "and then you'll realize again why you joined the Corps."
Many men with troubled backgrounds straightened out and became motivated as Marines.
Today, a high school diploma or equivalent is required and any brushes with the law had better be minor. Some military observers worry that these higher standards close a door to self-improvement for many young men and women.
While tougher standards make McElvain's job more daunting, he has no complaints. Gone are the days when knowing how to assemble and disassemble an M-1 or M-14 rifle was about as technical as a Marine infantryman got.
"With today's technology," he says, "we require smarter people in the Marine Corps."
After Vietnam, recruiting experts realized that the Corps' elite image was a valuable sales tool. Recruiters began stressing guts and motivation.
"It's not for everyone," McElvain kept telling students at Southwest.
This new candor confronts prospects at McElvain's office door.
"We'd promise you sleep deprivation, mental torment and muscles so sore you'll puke," a poster says. "But we don't like to sugar-coat things."
Contact Jim Schlosser at 373-7081 or firstname.lastname@example.org
04-01-03, 06:37 PM #2
Recruiters haven’t seen mad dash to enlist since Iraqi war began
By Steve Reeves
March 25, 2003
TUSCALOOSA | It was a bit slow at the U.S. Marine Corps recruiting station on McFarland Boulevard late Monday afternoon -- not even one person was in the office to give the pull-up bar a try. Sgt. Adam Havard, the recruiter on duty, said the ongoing and increasingly intense war against Iraq hadn’t changed the basic mission of recruiters.
“We’re looking for people who want to experience the challenges of being a Marine," said Havard, who sports the high-and-tight hairstyle and lean muscular build of the prototypical “leatherneck."
Havard said if young people are more patriotic because of the war, it isn’t prompting more of them to enlist in the Marines. He said his office’s goal is to sign up eight to 10 new recruits a month, and he doesn’t expect that to be made less or more difficult by the war.
“Nobody’s beating down the door," Havard said. “As happy as that would make me, no one is making a mad rush to the recruiter’s door."
On a day when Marines were engaged in a fierce fight for Nasariya, a city south of Baghdad where at least 10 Marines have already been killed in action, Havard said that perhaps the detailed media accounts of combat are scaring off some potential recruits.
“The press coverage shows people the realities of what we do," he said. “The big picture is that this is probably making our job a little harder. But the recruits that we are working with are fully aware of what’s going on, and they’re sticking to their commitments."
Local military recruiters said Monday it’s too soon to tell if the Iraqi war will have any effect on their efforts to entice young people into the military.
Two doors down from the Marines recruiting station, concerns about war weren’t keeping 18-year-old Auriel Thomas from talking to recruiters about a career in the Air Force. The senior at Northside High School said she wasn’t worried that she might find herself in harm’s way.
“It’s mainly about school and independence," Thomas said. “It’s a chance for me to get out of mommy and daddy’s space."
Sgt. Shannon Johnson, an Air Force recruiter, said he signs up four or five people in a typical month and hasn’t seen much change in the level of interest in the military during the past week.
“I haven’t seen a decrease, but I can’t say I’ve seen an increase either," he said.
Staff Sgt. John Cogburn said the days since the Iraqi war broke out have been “business as usual" at the U.S. Army recruiting station.
“We haven’t seen any drastic changes in recruiting," he said. “I would not say there is by any means an increase."
Cogburn said he had hoped that patriotism and support for American troops fighting overseas might translate into more young people wanting to join the armed forces, but he said that hasn’t been the case.
“Some mamas in particular don’t appreciate us calling right now," he said. “They say, ëNo, not my little Johnny.’ "
Reach Steve Reeves at email@example.com or 722-0208.
04-01-03, 11:59 PM #3firstsgtmikeGuest Free Member
O.K. You hit my hot button, Marine Corps Recruiting.
I was a line (on quota) recruiter in 1968, again for two years, 72-74, then for the next 18 months was THE Contact Team for the 12th District. On the road five days a week, I covered six states and over 300 Recruiters. ( I requested, and received, a transfer when recruiting funds were cut back and I could no longer be on the road but had to sit behing a desk on Treasure Island.)
Marine Recruiters are different from the other services. We pick the best NCO's and SNCO's in their fields and send them out to share their knowledge and enthuisiasm with high schoolers and invite them to join with us. When our tour of recruiting is over, we return to our primary MOS's. In the other services, recruiting IS a primary MOS.
For my own edification, I ran a survey. Grunt Recruiters enlisted mostly grunts. Wing wipers, mostly wing wipers. The same for avionics, communicators, engineers, tankers, etc. etc. etc. We shared our enthuisiasm for our Corps and for our place in it.
To me, a "professional" recruiter is like a snake oil salesmen.
I disagree with portions of the lead article in this thread.
"Marine recruiters once were notorious for painting rosy portraits of the good life in the Corps. But this is the new Corps."
That must have been WAY before my time, probably the years between WWI and WWII. The early 50's had Korea, the late 50's had the movie The D.I. with Jack Webb, which was shown in recruiting stations and was required viewing when I was at MCRD SD in 1958.
This was followed by the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Dominican Republic ( a three week vacation), and Vietnam. The movies dring those years were anti-war, anti-military, anti-U.S. ( I remember one piece of garbage where Hell's Angels were recruited for a mission in Vietnam, because there were not enough motorcycle riders in the army or Marine Corps.)
I don't remember ANYTHING that painted a rosy picture of life in the Corps, or met a Recruiter who sugar coated it. The theme then was, "We never promised you a rose garden."
"he might get two or three to sign up. But that's enough."
I can remember, in 68, when the quota, per Recruiter was NINE a month, and the old timers said we didn't realize how lucky we were that it was so low.
"Military recruiters of yesteryear had it made compared to those of today."
I NEVER thought that when I was Recruiting. I don't accept it NOW.
Since 1775, times change, attitudes change, requirements change, quota's and openings change, draft, no draft, war, no war, patriotism, pacifism, high unemployment, low unemployment. EVERY successful Recruiter met the challenge of his times.
I retired from active duty in 1978, but I have NEVER ceased to be a Recruiter for my Marine Corps.
To the white hats, the unsung heroes of our Corps.
04-04-03, 07:23 PM #4
I think Recruiters are way too under-rated. Of course, I are one!!! LOL. I agree with alot of the hstory you laid out. I don't think there was ever an easy time to recruit. The reality is Marines, by far, never paint a rosy picture. We state the obvious. Our numbers are small and our training is tough. Only a few good men and women will pass the challenges asociated with becoming a Marine.
Actually, the Corps also has a staff of career recruiters like the other services. It is a primary MOS, 8412, and once assigned (SNCOs only) a Marine will spend his career recruiting or serving in recruiting billets. For this reason all 8412s are volunteers.
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