Army Sgt. Tyler Martin, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear noncommissioned officer with the 24th Composite Transportation Company here, was among the first wave of soldiers from Fort Riley to participate in a Defense Department initiative -- the Special Recruiter Assistance Program -- from June 23 through July 24 in Monson, Massachusetts, in order to provide a home-grown face to a town with possible military recruits.
SRAP brings a total of 3,000 soldiers to recruiting stations across the nation. Each soldier spends 30 days supporting local outreach efforts to create awareness of the Army lifestyle and career opportunities in an area where they have lived, worked or have a significant personal tie.
According to Army Maj. Gen. Jeffery Snow, commander of U.S. Army Recruiting, about 50 percent of young people admit to knowing little about their own nation's military and even struggle to name all the services. This is where SRAP and soldiers such as Martin come into play.
Trying Something New
Martin learned of the opportunity to be close to home and try something that was new to him; recruiting. Or, as he puts it, “Learning about a new persons’ story with every encounter.”
“I’m not really nervous about talking to other people, but that’s when we are all in the same shop,” Martin said. “I really didn’t know what I was getting into. I just knew that I was going to be home recruiting. I went in not knowing too much about recruiting but I decided to do it.”
Martin was one of 20 soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade to interview with Army Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew Majeski, the brigade’s senior noncommissioned officer, for this great opportunity. He says that the turnaround time for his selection was very fast.
“I wasn’t expecting much to happen but I got a call to go in and speak with [Majeski] during a four-day [weekend],” Martin said. “I talked with the command sergeant major and he told all of us to stay flexible and he would be in touch.
“I didn’t think much about it and when I told my wife she didn’t think it was going to happen,” he said. “A few days later I get a call and [was] told I’m headed out in a few days. It was like an eight-day turnaround from the time I talked with [the] command sergeant major and me being on a flight home.”
Once Martin arrived at the Monson recruiting station he began learning how to speak to and with potential recruits. He was assigned to Army Sgt. Jason Duffy, a recruiter for the Monson station.
“When I met Sgt. Duffy, he welcomed me and began to tell me about the station and what it is they do,” Martin said. “He showed me the ropes -- how to fill out the information cards and gave me a bunch of business cards [and] we went out the door to prospect. He took me over the mall and said, ‘Just watch what I do.’ He took me around and taught me what to say and not to say. It was really fun.”
Martin said the recruiting experience was different from the other side of the desk.
“I got to learn a whole lot of stuff that I didn’t know when you’re on this side of it,” he said. “When you’re trying to enlist, you never see what’s going on behind closed doors. When you’re doing the recruiting system and doing the SRAP, it’s like you learn a lot of stuff that you never knew before.”
“I learned about meeting mission,” Martin said. “I learned that certain [military occupation specialties] have bonuses and others don’t and they [the recruiters] can see all of that. But mainly you learn about people and what they want to do later on in their careers, like go into the police force.”
After a week, Duffy allowed Martin to speak to prospects on his own. Martin said that he had earned the trust of Duffy and the other recruiters at the station.
“Sgt. Duffy and I would go out as a team and take turns just talking to people about military life and the benefits,” he said. “It was more so about listening to what the person wanted and to help them. I actually found myself talking to prospects late at night, like around 9 p.m. at Walmart while I’m with my wife. But I found it to be more than a job because I wanted to make sure the station met their mission and it was fun.”
During his time at the Monson recruiting station, Martin succeeded at a challenge made by the station’s first sergeant.
“When I got my initial counseling from the first sergeant, he said that he hadn’t done recruiting in a while,” Martin said. “But he said he could put one [recruit] in before me. Well, one day a kid I had talked to walks into the station with a card in his hand and says, ‘Someone gave me this card a week ago and I’m here to get more information.’ All the sergeants were looking around at each other asking who it was and then I said, ‘I remember you and I’m glad you came in.’ The other sergeants were like ‘How did you do that?’ I just smiled and since I don’t know too much I let the actual recruiters take over. It was pretty cool.”
Martin said that toward the end of his time at the station, he began to really like working with the recruiters there, explaining that he enjoyed how they helped one another, and hopes to one day become a recruiter himself.
“Man I really enjoyed my time there,” he said. “I would love to be a recruiter and go work back in that station.”