Consider this a continuation of my previous thread as I vent yet again about some of the bullshit myself and other recruiters have to up with.
Parents/Bonus Money: As a parent myself, I understand wanting the best for your child. That said, most of the young men and women I talk to are capable of making their own decisions, and many need something much more than overprotective parents. Face it, our mothers and fathers will not be around forever. On another note are the parents who are blinded by the thought of their child getting some quick cash in the form of a bonus. The first and only senior I enlisted in the past eleven months just wants to be a Soldier. The mother made it clear that she wouldn't allow Private to join at age 17, when there was a $1000 a month senior bonus for as much as $14,000. That got reduced to $500 when Private finally got her mom to realize she was joining with mother's support or without it. Paycharts, benefits and my own story were enough to get her mom to realize joining the military is not the end of the world, and that in many cases it broadly expands opportunities. Still, I mentioned the $500 senior bonus, which would have totaled a whopping $5000. Private enlisted after going over her contract in detail with the counselor, mother looked at the paperwork and asked me a week later where the senior bonus was. I delved into the contract and the policies and, after some initial confusion, found that the bonus was reduced to $100 a month, totaling $1000 for Private. The catch? It was effective the first of the month, Private joined mid-month, and the new policy message did not come out until a few days later. Long story short, mother went off, telling me I had personally promised this money to her and her daughter (I didn't), that it was going to be fixed (it can't, policy is policy) and that Private was not going anywhere until it is fixed. Way to finish off one week, I let the weekend go by, went to the school to explain the situation to Private and she was not bothered in the least. She has a nice non-combat job doing something she loves, will be making $1700 a month while in training and $1850 after, and will finally get the chance to follow in her grandfather's footsteps. That's the type of enlistee I like, to hell with bonus money. Had Private freaked out like her mom over a few thousand dollars, I'd have gladly started the paperwork to get her out.
Getting Blindsided by DEP'ers: The Delayed Entry Program is great for seniors or those who need a little time before they leave for training. That said, it completely sucks for recruiters, so far as I'm concerned. It takes many hours for us to find a qualified person to join and many more hours to process them and get them to MEPS. That is only the beginning, now we must keep up with them for months, keeping them motivated and qualified to ship out. When I joined, I left a couple of weeks later. From civilian to Soldier in less than three weeks to do something I wanted to since I can remember. Even then, I had second thoughts. Everyone does. After all, you are leaving all you know to venture into the uncertain. The DEP program allows extra time for the negative influences to take hold, for enlistees to get into trouble hanging out with their friends, for females to get pregnant, etc, etc, etc. A couple of personal experiences are below.
- SPC Han (not her real name, of course): SPC Han first came into the office a month or two after I started working there. She had served in the Guard, went to Afghanistan and was looking to get back in. The Reserve recruiter passed her to me when she stated she wanted to go active. I started the process and of course she had "no law", even going so far as to look self-righteous when I asked her. A police check showed an old battery charge as well as a humdinger of a felony. I can't get too specific, but her state employer had her investigated for doing something extremely unethical. I spent a few days going to DA offices, courts, etc trying to find out the disposition. Finally, the DA said she was still being investigated for more charges. I searched her name and found news articles about her investigation and exactly what she was accused of. Okay, disqualified, move on... Or not, a while later she came in with a magic DA letter allowing her to join. She even managed to get her job switched (a miracle given her test scores and the limited jobs available). Two weeks later she was "pregnant" (still wondering about that one). It's still shady to me. She was looking at serious time, suddenly everything is great, she joins the Army and then gets pregnant for the first time in her almost thirty years. It really wouldn't surprise me if the whole thing was a ploy to try to help her with the charge. Anyway, she was the first I put in and the first I put out.
- PFC Mack: Late twenties, dropped out of college, been working dead end jobs since. Oh, also an Eagle Scout, tested extremely high on the ASVAB, with a brother who is a senior enlisted member with over twenty years of service. He drove from out of state to see me, took the ASVAB the next day and was in the Army before I knew him for 48 hours. Took a Special Forces job, drove a couple of hours to take the language aptitude test, scored well enough on that to learn anything from Arabic to Mandarin. Smart, polite, and someone I definitely identify with and like. Five months in the DEP took its toll, though. He told me three days before he was supposed to ship out that he had been having second thoughts. He finally made up his mind to give college another shot. Wasn't interested in choosing another job, but told me he may be calling me later if things don't work out. I hope they do, but if not I will do what I can to put him back in. Anyway, the pessimistic side of me just doesn't get the logic of PFC Mack. By the time he earns his degree he'll be in his thirties, about ten years behind other degree holders. His brother can retire at any time with a retirement check that is more than PFC Mack makes. He could also have worked towards his degree in the Army, not having to worry about tuition and getting paid extremely well in the meantime. Oh, well.
SPC Han would likely have failed to ship for training regardless. PFC Mack would have been done with Infantry and Airborne training by now had he shipped off within a month. From there he'd have gone through Special Forces training, the Defense Language Institute, and eventually to a Special Forces group as a green beret.
Unqualified Persons: According to a recent report about 75 percent of 17-24 year old Americans are unfit for service. To break it down kindergarten style, three-quarters of us are fat, stupid, unhealthy, criminals, druggies, or messed up in the head. Or a combination of the above. Many of the qualified people have other plans and eventually step over into the unqualified pool. For the sake of dragging this pointless thread on, I'll share my thoughts on each disqualifier.
- Overweight: Most of us are lazy, sitting behind screens of some sort for hours each day and putting less than ideal foods into our system. Hell, I like to surf the internet and drink far too much beer. It has taken its toll, but I can still go out and run a few miles and am not what many would call fat. I try to watch my non-beer calorie intake and make a point to walk/run everywhere I can. Not so for many Americans. Asking us to get up to go to the store is a feat unto itself. Granted, some of us have disabilities or other reasons why we can't control our weight, but when a trip to the buffet is blocked by 400-pound Bertha making her tenth trip and the local Wal-Mart is full of 150-pound pre-teens looking at video games, something is wrong.
- Education: Many Americans are victims of the public education system. I never really thought that was true until getting to Louisiana. I've seen high school grads and in some cases even college grads that were unable to score high enough on the ASVAB to join. The dropout rate doesn't help either, with many parents electing to home school their kids, not realizing that an online diploma or GED do not hold the same weight as a regular diploma. At the end of the day, though, being smart isn't about pieces of paper. Apply yourself, keep learning whether in school or not, and constantly strive to improve yourself. I dropped out, have only completed a few college credits, yet scored higher on the ASVAB and am more knowledgeable than a majority of the people I deal with, from high school seniors to college students, to thirty-somethings on the street. Just don't ask me to do your Algebra homework for you.
- Physical Ailments: Most of the time we can't help being physically disqualified. Asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, and other conditions will keep motivated young men and women from joining. If I could, I would gladly put asthmatics and diabetics into comfy rear-echelon jobs to free up those more healthy people for deployments or forward areas. By the time someone is otherwise fully qualified for the military, they know how to take care of themselves and their condition. Hell, make them recruiters so most of us can go back to the line.
- Drug Use: I don't judge people on what they use, but you need to know if you have a problem. Though I've never tried anything outside of alcohol, everyone else I know has smoked weed or done other substances at one time or another. Alcohol is my drug of choice, and I'll admit that it is one of the worst drugs out there. Unfortunately, many Americans allow drug use or possession to screw up their lives. A friend of mine is back in jail on a second-3rd DWI charge, after almost killing himself in an accident last year. Some of us allow drugs to consume us, being addicts, as in the case of another acquaintance who died on death row after getting hooked on crack and killing a guy for $40.
- Criminal Records: We control our own destinies in most cases. That said, I know firsthand how the justice system can screw you over. So far as the military is concerned, any disposition outside of "not guilty" or "dismissed" probably means you are guilty. That pre-trial intervention the DA is offering you, or "do 30 hours of community service and we'll drop the charge" means you are guilty. Innocent people don't make deals, even though everyone knows that many scared young adults will gladly take community service over a trial even if they are innocent. Don't do anything stupid, and hopefully you will stay clear of the "justice" system. Also, everyone makes mistakes, but some mistakes are much worse than others. Most felonies will keep you from joining, mistake, PTI, or not. Felonies also keep you from voting, buying guns and all the other liberties we need to enjoy while we can.
- Mental Problems: Who can't lay claim to some sort of mental problem? I scare myself sometimes. That said, some of us have legitimate problems, while other problems come from being weak. My buddy who is sitting in jail is about as messed up as they come. Take the alcohol and drugs away and he is hard-working, family oriented and a great guy. That ends when he starts drinking and popping pills. He gets paranoid, violent, depressed, turns against people, you name it. I sure as hell can't as I'm no psychiatrist, but I do know that when he is prescribed pills to help him, he abuses them to excess and becomes someone else entirely. Hell, when I drink too much I become withdrawn, anti-social and irritable. As such, I drink little when out with friends or in public. Do what you can to cope with your problems, and don't let them get to the point where you harm others or yourself.
Anyway, that's about it, started with me venting about some recent events with the job and ended with my wholly unqualified opinions on why so many people can't join the military. Thanks for reading. I think it's time for a beer.