Feb 12, 2009

Marine vs. Army Recruiting


As the Army takes the day off to reflect on their recruting "issues", the Marine Corps is ahead of their recruiting numbers every month. In fact, even areas like the northeast United States, which include such wealthly and collge-oriented areas likes Fairfield County, CT., Somerset County, NJ, and Bucks County, PA - the Marines EXCEEDED their mission by 150+ recruits.

Army Recruiting Takes Mandatory Stand-Down
February 12, 2009
Military.com|by Bryant Jordan

Every recruiter in the Army is taking a time out tomorrow. And between mid-March and mid-July, pretty much every other command in the Army will be taking one, as well, all in an effort to help troops, Army civilians and their families deal with the stresses of Army life.

But its the recruiting command -- which has been in the spotlight recently over a rash of suicides and claims of unrealistic pressures put on recruiters -- that will stand down first. On Feb. 13, the command’s leaders will conduct a multi-phase training and education program with an emphasis on dealing with the stresses that could cause a Joe to take his own life.

The time-out will in part be used "to discuss suicide prevention and wellness resources available to the Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians and family members in recruiting command," Army Recruiting Command spokesman Douglas Smith told Military.com.

The command is made up of 38 recruiting battalions and five brigades whose mission it is to bring in new blood for the largest of the four military branches.

While stress on Soldiers and their families is an Army-wide problem, recruiting command saw a string of suicides -- 15 since 2003. Four of the suicides occurred between 2005 and 2008 in the Houston Recruiting Command, a spike that prompted an Army investigation.

That investigation, concluded in January, found that poor leadership, job-related stress, personal and medical problems contributed to the deaths. Army Secretary Pete Geren subsequently ordered the stand down slated for tomorrow, officials said.

While the Army was looking at the Houston Recruiting Command for its investigation, Military.com reported in December that Oklahoma City Command recruiters were dealing with their own stress-related issues, including claims of overly long hours, unrealistic demands by supervisors and the pressure to fudge paperwork to qualify applicants who otherwise would not meet standards.

One of the recruiters who previously talked to Military.com said recently that "the [Army] leadership is not happy [with commanders] blaming the recruiters for the problems, rather than looking at failed policies at company and battalion level."

The Oklahoma City recruiters told Military.com in December they have seen the same kinds of stresses plaguing their colleagues that Houston-area recruiters have been through. Two of the recruiters estimated that at least 30 percent of the roughly 200 recruiters in the Oklahoma City battalion are on anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medications. Some also are taking drugs illegally to cope with pressures of the job, they said.

While a third recruiter declined to offer an estimate of how many battalion recruiters were self-medicating or on prescription medications, he said he knows "a lot of guys are taking anti-anxiety" meds. Some want to get on the meds, he said, because it helps keep their supervisors "off their backs." An Army spokesman said Dec. 24, in response to a Military.com query, that the Army probably does not track the number of Soldiers on prescription medications.

Lt. Col. Thomas F. Artis, the Oklahoma City battalion commander, said in his order for the stand down that his "intent is for commanders at Company and Station level to take the lead and provide information and receive feedback on wellness resources available to Soldiers, civilians and family members" associated with the battalion.

The order, dated Jan. 29, says training will be held at battalion headquarters as well as at the various companies making up the district: Oklahoma City, Lawton, Fort Smith, Little Rock, Tulsa and Texarkana. All training is to be done in person, the order stipulates and facilitated by company commanders.

The training will include video presentations and group guided discussions.

According to a battalion operation order dated Jan. 29, the day-long program will be done in four phases -- leader training, individual training of all recruiters, an open forum led by the unit commander and a climate survey that will be conducted afterwards. The climate survey is to be completed no later than Feb. 17, the order states.

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