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OIF, OEF Veterans Wanted As Special Recruiters

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2005 – The Army is asking Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans to volunteer for a new mission.

However, this time the mission is not overseas, but right in their own hometown as part of the Special Recruiter Assistance Program.

The Army wants OIF and OEF veterans to go to their local communities to talk about life in the military and their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. This, official say, is an effort to raise awareness about the military, while at the same time encouraging young adults to join the Army.

"That has always been a goal of the Army as far as enlisted accessions is concerned," said Alphonsa Green, senior Army recruiting policy and programs manager. "The more people know about the military, the higher the propensity across the country for our youth to join."

"We want to provide our veterans an opportunity to give a first-hand account of their experiences," he added. "But at the same time, we want to raise awareness so that we can get more volunteers."

The Army sees the program as way of helping reach its recruiting goal of 80,000 Regular Army soldiers for fiscal 2005, and 22,175 for the Army Reserve.

According to Army Recruiting Command statistics for the current fiscal year, the Army recruited 22,246 soldiers for the active Army and 4,597 for the Army Reserve, as of Jan. 31.

Through the program, OIF and OEF veterans will get up to 14 days of temporary duty at a recruiting station near their hometown. There, they assist with recruiting activities, speak at college and community events, and participate in interviews with local media.

"We ask them to talk about service to country, 'I'm doing this, and here's why,'" Green said. "We ask them to mention the various occupational specialties that we offer. We ask them to talk about leadership, discipline and our core values -- all of that coupled with their experience."

About 300 soldiers have signed up for the special recruiting program, with some 35 veterans having already completed duty, Green said.

The Army Recruiting Command, which administers the program, encourages enlisted soldiers age 25 or younger in stateside units, who have served overseas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom, to apply online at the USAREC Web site.

However, officials said they should wait until their units return stateside before applying. Those approved for the program will receive acceptance by e- mail.

Green said a similar recruiting program is being made available for Army officers as well.

He said the program may serve another purpose as well: to dispel "negative rumors" about military service.

Green noted there is lot of "good news" not being reported about the military and what soldiers are doing in theater. "This program will show the positive side," he said.

For those considering SRAP, Green, a retired Army sergeant major who served 15 years as a recruiter, said that recruiting duty is not the "tough assignment" that most soldiers consider it to be.

"Once you learn the business, and learn it's a people's business," he said. "And once you learn to communicate effectively with the audience, it's not as big of a task as one would think."

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Army Recruiting Command

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