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NEWS | Oct. 19, 2018

Missouri Guard exceeds recruiting goals in fiscal year 2018

Missouri Guard exceeds recruiting goals in the fiscal year 2018

Courtesy: Missouri National Guard Public Affairs Office

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – At a time when other components are struggling with recruiting, the Missouri National Guard finished the fiscal year over 100 percent strength.

Both the Missouri Army and Air National Guard finished the year at approximately 102 percent strength, said Maj. Gen. Steve Danner, the Adjutant General.

“The Missouri National Guard is an organization people want to be a part of,” Danner said. “These numbers reflect not only the incredible job our recruiters are doing by bringing in new Soldiers and Airmen but the climate of the Guard in retaining good troops. That we remained above 100 percent even as we added 800 new Soldiers in the past 18 months says a lot about our organization and the patriotism of Missourians.”

While many components are struggling to meet recruiting goals, in part due to low unemployment, the Missouri National Guard continues to attract quality Soldiers and Airmen. Because of this success, the state has grown, receiving additional units, fulltime and part-time positions.

Missouri Army National Guard finished seventh in the nation in enlisted accession mission percentage and finished September as the number one state in that category. Lt. Col. Nathan Wilde, commander of the Missouri Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion, said the success comes through a sense of shared mission throughout the organization.

“The support from our joint force headquarters has been outstanding,” Wilde said. “They have given us the resources we need so we can meet our mission.”

Wilde also credited Sgt. Maj. Matthew Marr and the battalion’s senior enlisted leadership for keeping recruiting on-track by providing solid leadership and guidance for the state’s recruiters.

“Sgt. Maj. Marr works with our recruiters to make them successful,” Wilde said. “We do deliberate, enlisted-driven production reviews regularly to make sure our recruiters are where they are supposed to be and provide solution-based, productive feedback.”

Meanwhile, the Missouri Air National Guard had one of its best years in history, finishing at nearly 102 percent strength, said Senior Master Sgt. Jorge Gonzalez, Missouri Air National Guard Recruiting superintendent.

The Missouri Air National Guard has facilities in St. Joseph, Whiteman Air Force Base, Jefferson Barracks, and Jefferson City. Like Wilde, Gonzalez said the team’s historic success is the result of the unit and state leadership empowering the recruiting team.

“Our recruiters throughout the state have really come together as one team,” Gonzalez said. “Our Wing commanders and the Adjutant General have given us the support we need to meet, and then exceed their recruiting goals.”

Both Army and Air recruiters continue to innovate.

On the Army side, the Show-Me Gold Program has nearly doubled in size over the past year. The program, which prepares Guardsmen for Officer Candidate School while paying for their education. For the first time, the program is in private colleges at William Woods University and College of the Ozarks.

Wilde also credits the Missouri Army National Guard’s marketing team for their outreach efforts. They help coordinate events including leadership courses for high school and college teams and fitness classes using mobile trailers.

The Air National Guard is also expanding into new territory. This year, for the first time, they opened a recruiting station in Springfield.

“We’re getting our name out there in an untapped market,” Gonzalez said. “Because we don’t have a local unit in Springfield, some people didn’t know we existed. We have already gotten 12 Airmen from Springfield since we opened the shop this past spring.”

The key for both recruiting teams is getting into the community. That tends to be easier for the Guard, which has long-term recruiters who are personally invested in the areas they work, Marr said.

“Our recruiters are community people,” Marr said. “Other service recruiters come and go after a couple of years. Ours becomes a true part of the community.”

Marr, who served as both an active duty and Missouri National Guard recruiter, said his experience has shown him building those relationships is essential to success. This is especially true in schools, where many potential recruits are young people looking for a way to pay for higher education.

“Our section chiefs do a great job communicating with principals and faculties at schools,” Marr said. “Many schools invite our recruiters in as a resource, especially for their students who need help paying for college. Not every National Guard is able to pay 100 percent state tuition.”

As good as the fulltime recruiting teams are, both Army and Air count on Soldiers and Airmen to help grow and retain the force, Marr said. Programs like the Leads to Enlistment program give Soldiers an avenue to recruit friends and colleagues who are interested in the Guard. The recruiting team encourages units to identify and reward Guardsmen who contribute to the recruiting mission through the awarding of the Missouri Recruiting Ribbon or, in some cases, an Army Achievement Medal.

The recruiting section also recognizes its own team’s success. The battalion’s armory walls are covered with pictures of recruiters who have gone above and beyond their mission.

There is another group, behind the scenes, who is also critical to the recruiting mission, Wilde said.

“To paraphrase Secretary James Mattis, who said, ‘we don’t reenlist Soldiers, we reenlist families,’” Wilde said. “Our recruiters work late hours – they miss things like ballgames. We work hard to make sure our families know how much their Soldiers’ service means to us.”

The recruiting teams are not resting on their laurels, even with their great success in fiscal year 18. The Missouri Army National Guard team had the most successful recruiting month of any state or territory in September and is already building on that success in October.

“Our headquarters staff has a ‘field first’ attitude, and our commander’s intent and vision have buy-in from the headquarters to the recruiter level,” Marr said. “We’ve got a great team. Everybody is in it to win it.”

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