“Being a Marine is not simply a job. It is a calling.” (Author unknown)
How do you picture a Marine recruiter? Most likely, the image of a Marine in dress blues with a steely gaze standing at attention comes to mind. That is the iconic poster image; the US Marine recruiters are a dedicated team of professionals from all over the United States on duty to recruit the most qualified to join their family of Marines. Family is exactly how they view their life in the Marines. The recruiters based in Winston-Salem, working at the Hanes Mall recruiting office, hail from Missouri, Wisconsin, California, Mississippi, and North Carolina. They each went through a selection/screening process to be a recruiter, as the role is viewed as ‘the face of the Marine Corps.’
Why be a recruiter?
A Marine intending to serve as a career Marine is expected to do a special duty assignment. Being a Marine recruiter is such a role, lasting 36 months. Once completed, each will return to their respective specialty. As recruiters, each is able to address MOS (Military Occupation Specialty) based on personal experiences. For instance, Sergeant Auclair is an administrative specialist, Staff Sergeant Kramer is a tank mechanic, Staff Sergeant Blandin is an engineer, Sergeant Rachow is a water purification specialist, Sergeant Daniel McDuffie is a HAZMAT specialist, and Gunnery Sergeant Blakes builds aircraft bombs and missiles. Their varied specialties are an integral component in guiding young recruits to select the MOS options that appeal to their personal skills and interests. “Sharing the possibilities, opportunities, and benefits of being a Marine are an important part of the conversation when speaking with potential recruits,” according to Staff Sergeant Kramer. Interestingly, there are 330 different job opportunities available, many of which may transition to a civilian career. “Most recruits are unaware of the diversity of career opportunities,” said Kramer. As founder and CEO of FedEx, Frederick W. Smith once stated, “I do not believe I could have built FedEx without the skills I learned from the Marine Corps.”
What is involved in recruiting?
In their present duty, the recruiters visit 40+ schools in Forsyth, Surry, Stokes, Davie Davidson, and Wilkes counties on a regular basis. “Recruiting is not about numbers or reaching quotas,” explained GySgt. Blakes. “The US Marines are the smallest branch of US military. We serve in the air, on land, and the sea. We are a family and have a vested interest in the men and women we recruit. We keep in touch with them before they ship out, during their training, and likely will see them down the road on other assignments.”
Typically, they visit schools and approach interested candidates. They may visit a potential recruit’s home or have scheduled office visits. Their workdays are long, usually from 7:30 am to 9:00 pm, six days a week. They answer questions from the potential recruits and their families on what to expect and what Marine life involves. As GySgt. Blakes stated, “Transparency is important. The Marines are not looking for everyone. It is a selective process and there are no high-pressure tactics.”
Once a decision is made to join, the recruit goes through a series of testing to confirm their qualification, including medical soundness and background checks. Recruits are sent to MEPS (Military Enlistment Processing Station) in Charlotte for additional tests and receive their dates to ship out for boot camp.
During the period prior to boot camp, the recruiters schedule activities to build camaraderie and begin preparing the new recruits for boot camp with planned runs and physical training several times a week. You may see them working out around the Mall. They go on group trips to military museums. Marines live and work as a family. They look out for each other. These activities reinforce that concept to new recruits who may keep in touch with their recruiters for years to come.
What about the recruiter’s family?
Each recruiter and their family have relocated to become part of our community. As Sergeant Jessica Auclair indicated, “Our intent is to make a positive impact on the community.” Their spouses find jobs, their children attend school; they are part of the community. We, in turn, value and honor their service and sacrifice for our country.
November 10 is the Marine Corps birthday. Semper Fi!