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Guard Recruiters Share Stories at NGAUS

10-03-23 WR Mississippi Visit WEBSITE
10-03-23 WR Mississippi Visit WEBSITE
Washington Report

A group of Army National Guard recruiters visited the National Guard Memorial, the NGAUS headquarters in Washington, D.C., Sept. 27, learning why sharing their stories with the public matters.

The visit honored 27 soldiers from the Mississippi Army Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion who had met or exceeded their annual assigned missions.

"Part of our concept here was to recognize our recruiters who met their mission," said Lt. Col. Andrew Adcock, the battalion's commander. "It is also to expand their personal story.

"A lot of times when we talk to young people, they focus on the immediate," he continued. "To be able to show them the larger, macro picture about what service actually means is very important."

The group also heard from retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson, the NGAUS president, about the value of discussing their service with others.

"Part of the advocacy part is, you have to tell stories," Robinson said in the G.V. Sonny Montgomery Room of the association’s headquarters.

Montgomery represented Mississippi in Congress for 30 years. He was also a Mississippi Army Guard major general.

"When you go from Mississippi up to the National Guard Bureau, there are a whole lot of layers there," Robinson told listeners. "It is very hard to affect change."

Robinson argued that making the Guard relatable would help the service weather one of the U.S. military’s toughest talent environments in decades.

"If we continue in this spiral, every year we’re going to cut back," he said. "Every year, the budget comes down. Every year, our formations come down.

"To get back up, to get out of this death spiral, we’ve got to recruit above what our goals are," Robinson concluded.

After Robinson’s remarks, the Guardsmen toured the National Guard Memorial Museum.

Sgt. 1st Class Curt McGee said exploring the museum made him feel connected to the Guard’s history.

"It humbles me to make me think that I’m a part of an organization that has helped our nation grow during every phase of its development," he stated.

"I grew up in a difficult background in Mississippi," McGee admitted. "I never had a family like I had until I joined the National Guard."

Various factors have made the Guard’s recent recruiting and retention landscape among the most difficult in recent memory.

The challenges facing today’s recruiters include stiff competition in the labor market, strict eligibility requirements and low interest in the armed forces from eligible talent.

The Army Guard has surpassed its 2023 personnel goal by 699 soldiers this year, but the service has also inducted 1,298 fewer recruits than initially planned.

Last week, Adcock said that Guard recruiters are making inroads with potential talent by emphasizing how the service has evolved.

"We’ve transitioned to continual service, if you will," he said of the Guard’s operations.

While in Washington, D.C., the group also visited the U.S. Capitol and attended a memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

— By Mark Hensch