ARLINGTON, Va. – August 20,2015 – Earlier this year a challenge was issued to Army National Guard recruiters across the country: enlist nine new recruits in 90 days.
It was not going to be easy when considering the average is about three in that same time frame, but the challenge would help the Army Guard stay on track to maintain its end strength. It was a way to motivate the recruiting force through a little healthy competition.
“We needed to find a way to motivate the recruiting force, and the ‘9 in 90’, which was nine accessions in 90 days, was the end result,” said Army Lt. Col. Bruce Delaporte, chief of the Accessions Branch with the Army Guard.
Eighty-six recruiters met the challenge and Delaporte said the top recruiter was able to put in 18 in that same period.
That top recruiter was Army Sgt. Amadou Traore, a recruiting and retention non-commissioned officer with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, who has been in recruiting for a year.
“When I first heard about the challenge, I wanted to pull in the most applicants and try to be number one in the nation,” Traore said, adding that his strategy was to simultaneously send qualified people to the Military Entrance Processing Station, or MEPS, and call potential new recruits.
On average, Traore said he was sending 13 applicants to MEPS per month.
“I feel like all of that hard work paid off,” he said excitedly.
“I have more confidence to do my job and be motivated to do more so I can be in the same place in future challenges coming up,” Traore added.
Originally from the Republic of Mali in West Africa, Traore has been in the Guard since 2011 and said his experience has been great so far.
“When I am interviewing people in the office, they ask me what is the downside of joining the (Army) National Guard and I honestly do not know any downside,” he said.
The top 29 recruits who had more than nine accessions were awarded the Army Commendation Medal, and like Traore, many said they were also excited to participate in the challenge.
“When I first heard about the 9 in 90 challenge, my first thought was ‘I got this,’” said Army Sgt. Jeffrey Passwaters, a recruiting and retention non-commissioned officer from the Delaware Army National Guard, who had 13 accessions during the challenge. “I was in a really good position with (the leads that I was working), and that time of the year – the end of the school year – I could make a really good push and do very well.
“I’m a competitive person, so are the people in my office, and I think most recruiters in the Army National Guard are competitive people,” Passwaters said. “That competitive edge really drove us all.”
Army Staff Sgt. Brian Merritt, a recruiting and retention NCO from the Virginia Army National Guard agreed, adding that the competition really challenged him to go above and beyond.
“This challenge allowed me to reach down and pick myself up by the boot laces and go that extra mile, knowing that I was being compared to other recruiters not only in my state, but across the nation,” he said.
Going that extra mile isn’t a new attitude for Merritt, who came in second place with 17 accessions during the challenge.
“The hours are long and it’s a very demanding job, but I don’t mind that because I care about the Soldiers that I am putting in,” he said. “I follow their progression and I like seeing their achievements and knowing that I played a part in making their lives better.”
Even though the job can be demanding, recruiters like Passwaters love what they do.
“I really enjoy being the face of the National Guard for my state,” he said.
“A lot of people that I talk to about the National Guard are not aware of what we have to offer. They’re not even aware that we’re in the communities,” Passwaters said. “But once I talk to them, they’re really happy to realize that we’re like the hometown force, serving the community first.”