Everyone Is a Recruiter

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By Rear Admiral Jeff Hughes
Commander, Navy Recruiting Command

If you had asked me about recruiting several years ago, I would have said that it’s obviously effective and made some casual comments about “them” (recruiters) succeeding in attracting the best and brightest to serve in the Navy. I recognized that it was an important mission, but, in my mind, it just happened. I didn’t think about or appreciate the people, processes, resources and dedication that it took to compete for talent and source the fleet.

Operations Specialist 1st Class Ian Roberts, assigned to Navy Recruiting Station Poway, speaks with an applicant about opportunities and benefits of joining the Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Anastasia Puscian/Released)
Operations Specialist 1st Class Ian Roberts, assigned to Navy Recruiting Station Poway, speaks with an applicant about opportunities and benefits of joining the Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Anastasia Puscian/Released)

Now that I’ve been the commander of Navy Recruiting Command for almost two years, I have a much different perspective. Previous assumptions and a recognized lack of awareness are now facts, and I want to share with you the realities of the Navy Recruiting mission and tell you about the phenomenal recruiters and support staff that make it happen.

Navy recruiters go out into communities across the country and even abroad, get to know the people, then actively seek out the very finest our country has to offer to inform them, influence them, inspire them and ultimately hire them to serve in our Navy.

Many of us are asked to engage in outreach events from time to time. We explain the greatness of our Navy, proudly describe the contribution we make for the nation and share our Navy experiences.  As we finish the engagement, we feel pretty good about ourselves and get back to our jobs.  Navy Recruiters are always doing outreach, each and every day.  The big difference is that they have to routinely affect monumental outcomes, closing life-changing deals for thousands of future Sailors.  They are the face of the Navy.

BATON ROUGE, La. (Nov. 3, 2016) Petty Officer Second Class Ernest Sanchez, a recruiter at Naval Recruiting District New Orleans, answers questions at an information booth setup during Baton Rouge Navy Week.  (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Grant P. Ammon/Released)
BATON ROUGE, La. (Nov. 3, 2016) Petty Officer Second Class Ernest Sanchez, a recruiter at Naval Recruiting District New Orleans, answers questions at an information booth setup during Baton Rouge Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Grant P. Ammon/Released)

Navy recruiters work autonomously in remote territories and highly concentrated urban areas, prospecting for new recruits and then guiding them through the process to successfully deliver them to the fleet.  They each have hard objective goals – yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, even daily.  Rarely do any of us at the individual level in the Navy have to consistently meet a measurable goal like this. We place a great deal of responsibility and accountability on our recruiters – and they deliver.

While recruiting can be exhilarating, ask any of them about their first contract, it can also be uncomfortable, lonely and demanding. While they are out in their communities, maintaining and promoting our image and reputation, recruiters have to work hard to influence young women and men to want to take this Navy journey with us.  They have to connect with a prospect, employing the marketing and sales techniques necessary to deliver a mutually beneficial value proposition.

For the prospect, this is the hardest decision they will have made in their lives, to date, and it’s the recruiter that makes this all happen – in the aggregate, over 40,000 times a year!

AMARILLO, Texas (March 9, 2016) Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Anthony Heath, a recruiter assigned to Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Dallas, right, encourages a future Sailor to hold a plank during a weekly delayed entry program meeting. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)
AMARILLO, Texas (March 9, 2016) Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Anthony Heath, a recruiter assigned to Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Dallas, right, encourages a future Sailor to hold a plank during a weekly delayed entry program meeting. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)

For 122 consecutive months, Navy Recruiting Command has achieved its active and reserve enlisted mission and this past year had the best performance in officer recruiting this decade; however, there are headwinds on the horizon. Resources remain tight, yet our mission continues to increase in both volume and quality to support the growing Fleet demands for the modern Sailor. We are experiencing a tougher and constraining national recruiting market environment. Even though America’s population is increasing, an increasing portion of our target cohort is determined to not be qualified to serve for mental, medical or moral reasons. Additionally, fewer youth have a propensity to serve due to the loss of awareness traditionally provided by family members or key influencers. This all leads to markedly greater competition among the other services and the private sector for the quality candidates we require.

HOUSTON (Oct. 20, 2016) Navy Recruiting District Houston’s Chief Petty Officer Gerard Labossiere discusses Navy opportunities with an interested candidate at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference downtown Houston Oct. 20. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Fahey/RELEASED)
HOUSTON (Oct. 20, 2016) Navy Recruiting District Houston’s Chief Petty Officer Gerard Labossiere discusses Navy opportunities with an interested candidate at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference downtown Houston Oct. 20. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Fahey/RELEASED)

So here’s how you can help. First, as you engage in outreach events, establish contact with the recruiters there to support you. I promise you they will be engaged and will capitalize on the opportunities you provide.  Second, and most important, please continue to send us the fleet’s very best Sailors to recruiting duty.

To get the applicants we need, we need the best recruiters–people of the same substance, character, intellect and experience as those that we hope to recruit. Applicants are looking to connect with someone that can confidently convey their Navy story and who they would aspire to emulate.

Navy recruiting is very rewarding, but we need to ensure these deserving Sailors are truly rewarded for their significant contribution to the readiness of our fleet as well. Most will return to the fleet after this demanding shore duty and want to remain competitive in their source ratings.

BALTIMORE, Md. (Dec. 10, 2016) Rear Adm. Jeffrey W. Hughes, Commander, Navy Recruiting Command, swears in 20 Future Sailors from Navy Recruiting District Philadelphia into the Navy during the Army Navy college football game.  U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st  Class Felicito Rustique Jr. (Released)
BALTIMORE, Md. (Dec. 10, 2016) Rear Adm. Jeffrey W. Hughes, Commander, Navy Recruiting Command, swears in 20 Future Sailors from Navy Recruiting District Philadelphia into the Navy during the Army Navy college football game. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Felicito Rustique Jr. (Released)

If we are to be the premier maritime fighting force in this era of return to true peer competition, if we are to be the employer of choice, then Navy recruiting needs to be the premier recruiting force. Recruiters underwrite the future success of our Navy. The Navy’s competitive advantage comes from our exceptional people and their future starts with Navy Recruiting Command!

For more news from Navy Recruiting Command, visit us on the web, on our YouTube channel, and on Facebook.


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Everyone Is a Recruiter

I Am a Navy Corpsman: Saving Lives

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Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos, Marine Aircraft Group 24, was recently selected as Pacific Fleet Sea Sailor of the Year. The corpsman has deployed to combat three times — twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos.

Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos, Marine Aircraft Group 24, was recently selected as Pacific Fleet Sea Sailor of the Year. The corpsman has deployed to combat three times — twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos)

Story by Paul R. Ross, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affiars

A 16-year-old picks up a magazine and flips through the glossy pages. He stops at an article about a heroic sailor — a Navy corpsman — who ran through a minefield to save the Marines he served with during Operation Desert Storm.

For some people, the story would be something they forget about as quickly as they read it – just another news article. But for one boy growing up in Guam, it was the catalyst to his career.

Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos, a hospital corpsman, enlisted in the Navy a year after reading that article and moved to the United States in 1999 to begin what is now a 13-year life in the Navy. The corpsman, who is assigned to Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 24 stationed at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, is a Purple Heart recipient and was recently selected as Pacific Fleet Sea Sailor of the Year.

Seeking Adventure

Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos poses with his family next to the ocean. The heroic story of a Navy corpsman during Operation Desert Storm inspired Santos to enlist in the Navy become a corpsman. Photo courtesy of Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos.

Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos poses with his family next to the ocean. The heroic story of a Navy corpsman during Operation Desert Storm inspired Santos to enlist in the Navy become a corpsman. (Photo courtesy of Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos)

Santos, the youngest of nine children, was the only one of his siblings to join the military and did so because he craved something different from his life on the island nation of Guam.

“I needed a change of life,” Santos said. “I needed better job opportunities. I wanted to grow up. (Life in Guam) was simple. It was laid back. It was the same old stuff. Just a slow life style — a beach life style. But I wanted more adventure.”

While the Navy would provide the adventure he was seeking, he knew the job of Navy hospital corpsman would provide something greater than adventure.

“I wanted to help people,” Santos said. “I wanted to save lives. I thought about how much I wanted to do a job like that.”

From the Battlefield

Throughout his 13-year career he would find himself deployed beside Marines in combat three different times – twice in Iraq and once in Afghanistan. In 2004, while deployed to Fallujah he earned his Purple Heart.

“I received wounds and shrapnel to my hand and wrist on March 26, 2004, during an ambush in a firefight in Fallujah on the streets,” Santos said.

But it was later that same year when Santos played a vital role in doing what he became a corpsman to do — save lives.

“On Sept. 6, 2004, a large convoy got hit by a vehicle-borne IED (improvised explosive device),” Santos said. “It hit the second truck, which had the platoon commander, about 14 Marines and 12 Iraqi National Guard. The IED hit the truck and we had a mass casualty. We had about 10 mortally wounded and the rest of the guys were just scattered throughout the zone.”

Santos would be the only corpsman on-scene for the first ten minutes after the attack.

“I was in the third truck,” Santos said. “We pulled up to the scene. We started pulling our guys out. We pulled a bunch of guys out and set up a casualty collection point. We went to work. We were running out of supplies. I was using guys’ individual first aid kits and a lot of tourniquets.”

Soon, other medical personnel arrived to assist and bring more supplies.

“We saved a lot of guys that day, and unfortunately a lot of Marines didn’t make it,” Santos said. “A lot of close friends were lost.”

For Santos, the respect he has earned from serving beside his Marine brethren isn’t something he takes lightly.

“It’s a great honor to be trusted like that,” Santos said. “It’s something that’s earned from your guys and being there. It’s earned through trust.”

Mother, Mother Ocean

Outside of serving as a corpsman, Santos has another passion — the ocean. Growing up in Guam gave Santos a unique connection to the blue, salty waters that surround his childhood home, and the place he now calls home — Hawaii.

Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos, Marine Aircraft Group 24, catches a wave in Hawaii. Santos finds respite from his busy life as a corpsman through surfing and spending time at the beach. Photo courtesy of Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos.

Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos, Marine Aircraft Group 24, catches a wave in Hawaii. Santos finds respite from his busy life as a corpsman through surfing and spending time at the beach. (Photo courtesy of Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos)

“Growing up around the ocean, it’s everything,” Santos said. “It’s a food source. It’s fun. It’s my happiness.”

His love of the ocean isn’t something he keeps to himself.

“I take guys out and teach them how to surf,” Santos said. “I make them understand what surfing is all about and about the ocean. I coach paddling for beginners and kids.”

Success and Respect

In order to be successful as a Navy corpsman, you have to be a leader — someone who can be trusted.

“HM1 Santos is a sailor’s-sailor,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman Frank Dominguez, lead chief petty officer for MAG-24. “He shows pride in everything that he does. He leads from the front and by example. Part of what makes him a great corpsman is how he treats other. He makes everyone feel like they are family. He is well respected by both Marines and sailors.”

The sentiment is shared by the Marines he has deployed beside.

“Doc Santos is one of the best Navy corpsmen I’ve had the pleasure of serving with,” said Marine Staff Sgt. Joshua Noel, CH-53E crew chief/flightline quality assurance representative. “He always maintains a very high level of professionalism, while at the same time has a very approachable demeanor. No matter how busy he was, he would always take the time to follow-up with his patients and ensure they were receiving the care they needed.”

The Extra Mile

Part of the reason some choose careers in the medical field is because of their unrelenting willingness to help those in need. This was the case when some Marines in Santos’ unit showed signs of suicidal ideation.

Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos, who grew up in Guam, has a unique love of the ocean. He teaches others to surf and paddle board from his current duty station at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Photo courtesy of Petty Officer1st Class Joseph Santos.

Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Santos, who grew up in Guam, has a unique love of the ocean. He teaches others to surf and paddle board from his current duty station at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. (Photo courtesy of Navy Petty Officer1st Class Joseph Santos)

“Doc Santos did an incredible job handling those situations,” said Noel. “I feel he went above and beyond with those Marines. As those Marines were getting separated from the unit and sent back to the States, Doc Santos gave incredible amounts of his personal time to see to it that they left Afghanistan on as much of a positive note as possible.”

There were no “working hours” for Santos as he stayed committed to his Marines — it was a 24-hour responsibility.

“He gave up his personal space, privacy and time by allowing them to bunk above him during their last days in country,” Noel said. “This enabled him to be able to be there for them at a moment’s notice and I believe it showed those Marines that there are people who care and will go the extra mile for them.”

Love of the Job

For Santos, this is the precise reason he continues to serve. The relationships he has forged are the reasons he loves being a Navy corpsman.

“It’s the camaraderie we develop,” Santos said. “It’s the friendship and the brotherhood.”

If he had it his way, his life would always be the Navy. But what else would you expect from someone who lives to serve others?

“If I can promote and stay in longer I would,” Santos said. “I’d definitely do this for my entire life.”

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I Am a Navy Corpsman: Saving Lives