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Prior-Service Push: Recruiters focusing on attracting those coming off active duty

Staff Sgt. Eddie Glover, insures that a flight of basic trainees are properly aligned in formation at the 322nd Training Squadron April 17, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Benjamin Faske)

Staff Sgt. Eddie Glover, insures that a flight of basic trainees are properly aligned in formation at the 322nd Training Squadron April 17, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Benjamin Faske)

Amidst the ever changing landscape of recruiting, Air Force Reserve Command Recruiting Service has reached its goal for 17 consecutive years. But as the climate in recruiting for the United States military is in constant flux, the service remains flexible and ready to adapt to these changes.

Maintaining an all-volunteer military continues to be a challenge as services fight for young recruits who are also being wooed by an up-surging civilian sector as well as government contractors. All this while each branch is being tasked with growing its numbers.

An alarming statistic for recruiting is that 70 percent of 17-to-24-year-olds in America are currently ineligible to join the military under existing Pentagon requirements. That means that 24 million of the 34 million people in that age group are not eligible to serve. This leaves only 10 million suitable people from which the military can replenish its ranks.

Roughly 59 percent of those who are ineligible are disqualified due to health and physical fitness issues, mostly due to the rising obesity problem, while another 25 percent lack the education required to serve in the military. This dwindling market of young people is also being sought out by major U.S. companies, putting considerable strain on maintaining an all-volunteer force.

One of the ways Air Force Reserve Command hopes to maintain its 17-year streak of making its recruiting goal, is to really focus on the prior-service market – those who have previously served on active duty in any branch of service, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard, as well as in any reserve component.

“While the Air Force Reserve will constantly continue to recruit the best and brightest non-prior service members to join our ranks, we are making a concentrated effort to recruit those prior-service members coming off active duty who want to continue to serve as Reserve Citizen Airmen,” said Lt. Col. Clint Bremner, chief of AFRC Recruiting Service’s Advertising and Information Systems Division.

AFRC Recruiting Service is asking for your help. One of the major areas recruiting intends to push hard this year is the Get 1 Now program. The peer referral program allows Reservists and civilian employees to refer a family member or friend to join the Reserve. Once a referral is deemed a qualified lead, the person submitting the lead is eligible for a host of awards.

“The Get 1 Now program has been one of the most successful initiatives that generate accessions from leads in the Air Force Reserve. One in every five leads submitted becomes an accession for the command,” Bremner said. “But the program has been underutilized in generating leads from the prior service. We need to have all of our Reservists to refer their former active-duty colleagues. This is an opportunity for each and every Reservist and civilian employee to become a recruiter and make a difference in keeping AFRC great.”

The Get 1 Now program generates the majority of leads from non-prior service members who join and recommend friends or relatives, but is missing out on those co-workers of the prior-service members who join.

“A challenge within the program is generating more prior-service leads via Get 1 Now. Our first-term Airmen are excited about the program and are leading the way with Get 1 Now referrals producing high-quality non-prior service leads. We want that to continue,” said Col. Timothy Martz, AFRC Recruiting Service vice commander. “However, we would love to increase mid- and senior-level Reserve member participation in the Get 1 Now program to include our civilian employee population.”

While the Get 1 Now program has been around for many years, some people new to the Reserve or even those joining from other services, may not be aware of the program and how it can help AFRC recruiting and the command as a whole.

“Many Reserve members were once on active duty and still have contact with their former active-duty counterparts. Or possibly they have recently deployed and have a friend coming off active duty. We need you to recommend they look into the Reserve,” Bremner said.
“For those who recently transitioned from the active component or sister service, download the app and tell us about your old colleague. You may be new to AFRC and don’t know how to recommend another service member to recruiting. This is a great way.”

For AFRC, getting a prior-service accession has many benefits.

“For us, gaining prior-service members is cost effective. They don’t have to repeat basic training and often will not have to attend tech school,” Bremner said. “We also know we are getting someone with a warrior ethos and possibly bringing in that joint experience that is so important in today’s military.”

The prior-service member also has benefits for continuing to serve.

“For those coming off active duty, being a Reservist allows them the flexibility to pursue a civilian career or go to school full time,” Bremner said, “while still being able to continue serving their nation and maintaining that camaraderie of being part of the military.”

Another initiative the Recruiting Service is rolling out this year is something called other-service recruiters. OSRs will be similar to in-service recruiters, who are located at most Air Force bases and are tasked with attending pre-separation briefings for those active-duty members who are coming off active duty. ISRs additionally meet with all active-duty Airmen as part of their out-processing check list.

The new OSR positions are going to be located in close proximity to some of the largest Army, Navy or Marine bases with anywhere from 15,000 to 50,000 active personnel. In similar fashion they will be tasked with trying to locate and counsel those coming off active duty who may be interested in continuing their military service on a part-time basis.

“We are doing this because AFRC needs to increase prior-service accessions as directed by Lt. Gen. (Maryann) Miller (AFRC commander),” said Master Sgt. Karl Perron, the Recruiting Service’s NCOIC of mapping, goal development and production analysis. “We need to increase our prior-service accessions by about 6 percent over our average for the last five years.”

Perron said AFRC Recruiting Service has a five-year average of approximately 64 percent. He also mentioned that in some instances recruiting may already have recruiters in the area of these other service bases but targeting separating active-duty personnel was not their primary focus.

“The OSR’s sole mission is to recruit separating service members coming off active duty,” Perron said. “They should be spending most of their days on base, post or station attending separation briefings and raising AFRC brand awareness through posters and their presence on base.”

Utilizing the Get 1 Now program and the introduction of OSRs are just two of the ways AFRC Recruiting Service is remaining flexible and adapting to the changing landscape of recruiting.

“Our intent in recruiting is to increase our prior-service accession rates in order for the Air Force Reserve Command to remain a prior service-focused, experienced and cost effective force,” Martz said.

The website for Get1Now is https://www.get1now.us/. There is also an app you can download for your phone.

(Babin is noncommissioned officer in charge of public affairs for the Recruiting Service at Robins AFB, Georgia.)