Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I never intended....

I never intended to offend with my post about how National Guard recruiters are different than Active Duty recruiters...... and I want to set the record straight. MY recruiter for the Navy NEVER lied to me. At all. He told me I was going open contract and I would not have a job assigned to me and I could take my time picking out a job in the Navy. What he did NOT mention was that I would be chipping paint, swabbing decks and cleaning heads for two years while I "looked around" at the different jobs.

I have heard the "horror" stories from people about how their recruiter lied, fooled and bamboozled them into enlisting. Being on both sides of the table I can tell you the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Sometimes (as in my case) people only hear what they want to hear. I had no clue what the Navy had to offer. I was offered Sea Bee (driving a bulldozer for the Construction Battalion) and Hull Tech (welder). I looked sideways at the recruiter and walked out of the office. A few months later the Senior Chief recruiter called me and asked if I had any ideas of what I wanted to do. I had NO clue. Instead of doing research I wanted them to hold my hand and do the work for me. So he sold me on open contract. I don't blame him. I was a dope smoking ninny that had no clue.

I arrived at Boot Camp and discovered my mistake through a series of "Sea Lawyers" who went into great detail of the fate that awaited me if I stuck with open contract. While in Boot I was able to sit down with a Detailer (career counselor) and renegotiate my contract for Electronics Tech. I was extremely "lucky" as they had one last slot for a female. Whew.

Now I have heard tales of recruiters that told the guys that they would have their own apartment on a ship and that the bigger Carriers had pools and even McD's. No lie. So I KNOW recruiters *do* lie.

I have run into my share of people who really don't want the truth. Or rather they have a preconcieved notion of what the National Guard and Army is like and no amount of reasoning on my part is going to convince them differently. Take for instance the Joe that walked into my office yesterday. He left basic because of a crazy wife he was worried about. Then he went AWOL when his Tennessee unit told him to go home and wait for his paperwork. He thought they meant Georgia as in "home". Now he sits in my office telling ALLLLLL about basic, AIT and the Army. He is the expert. He is now divorced from said crazy woman and wants to get back into the Guard. Nothing I say is sinking in.

Then I have the kids whose grandfather was in the Army. They know all about it. I try and tell them how it will be but they know it all already so I shut up.

I can say "The National Guard offers 100% tuition assistance UP TO $4,500.00 a year" and they totally miss the "up to" part. I talk about the GI bill kicker available to people WHO SCORE A 51 OR BETTER on the ASVAB, but they miss the score 51 or better part. I really try and make sure people are clear but the truth is...people have selective hearing.

I am also finding that I can believe about half of what applicants tell me.

Now, today I got to take a couple of rides in the Black HAwk. WOW. I got to sit in a crew seat and put on a headset so I could listen in on the conversation on the radio. TOO COOL. It was a BLAST. OK, OK, I know I am a rookie and most of the Army readers have shot out of the windows of a Black Hawk, fast roped out of a Black Hawk and other really cool high speed stuff but for an old chica, this was way cool. No pics yet. Soon to come.

Monday, September 25, 2006

I'm Baaaacccckkkk!

LOL, I need to just realize that I can't give up blogging. First I figured out that I need to keep DSL. I can't connect to a secure line using satellite internet so I have to keep DSL if I EVER want to use my ARNG computer at home. Like the time I was up to 0300 putting in applicant packets and "replicating" and "projecting". I would NOT liked to have been at the office until 0300! Hooah! So DSL at home is here to stay and that means I WILL be blogging from time to time.

This job just keeps getting better and better. I have met several people over the last few days that really want to serve their country. Two have medical issues and I am fighting to get them in if I can. Two are prior service and got out (like me) when they were much younger. Now they fully appreciate their time in the service and want to continue onto retirement. It will take some time to get one of them in...but I am going to give it my best shot. The other will not take much work and he is very excited. I am too.

I have been doing some work with a local high school. Lots of the ROTC kids are interested. They are a great crew of kids. It is refreshing to meet kids that are squared away and know what they want out of life.

My boss is very happy. We have the best team in the State. Our recruits are happy, making their ship dates (going to basic on time etc) and returning to make good soldiers in their units. It is not like Active Duty recruiting.

First, I had to apply and get selected for this job. I had to appear before a board, give a presentation selling myself and be selected for my position. I worked for 8 months trying to get on a board. I REALLY wanted to recruit.

Second and more importantly, I know what my mission is for the year. I knew in July that I had a mission of 26 for the year. Approximately 2 a month. So when I recruit 4 a month I am way ahead and I know it. My numbers are added up for the year. The pressure is off and I recruit people because I want to, not because I have to. The Active Duty recruiters never know what their next month's mission is. They might get a mission of 1 this month and a mission of 5 next month. Their numbers don't add up for their annual mission so they are ALWAYS under the gun. I feel for them.

Finally, we don't enlist someone and never see them again. They come back. If I lie or try and pull the wool over someone's eyes, they are going to come back. Back to their school, back to their community and back to their friends. If they come back talking about what a liar I am; my career is over. We are ALWAYS counselled to be very honest with out applicants. When I was an applicant I double checked everything my National Guard recruiter told me. I made sure he was telling me the truth. He explained to me the logic about being a local recruiter and it rang true. Now I am living it. I have to look my new recruits in the eye when they come back from basic and AIT. I really really want the reputation of being honest.

I get to ride in a Black Hawk Helicopter tomorrow!! Whoo Hoo! I am being rewarded for being top dog on my team. I have NEVER ridden in a helicopter. If I live to tell about it I will blog tomorrow! :-)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sad, but true

I have been very busy as promised. I am able to slide in a quick post. This is my first day off in three weeks. Don't feel sorry for me, I am loving it. I really enjoy meeting people and traveling so this job is right up my alley. I know I can't continue working these kinds of hours but I am hoping to have my mission made by December 1st putting me (and my team) well ahead of the pack and able to relax and enjoy my family. I still drive the kids to school and take my daughter to ballet lessons. So I am working hard to keep balance in my life.

I wanted to post because of a kid I met yesterday. He called 1800-go-guard. His lead was sent to my boss who passed it on to me. I called and talked to him briefly. He seemed like a nice polite kid as I asked him questions about his age, etc. I got lost on the way to the appointment and called again. He answered the phone and I told him I was running late but would be there soon.

I arrived at a very poor section of a very poor town. There were Georgia Bulldog banners and flags displayed all around the yard and the mailbox was painted with Georgia Bulldog colors. I had to smile as I realized I was interrupting the game Georgia was playing that afternoon against the Colorado Buffalos. My husband was tivoing the game at home to watch later. I noticed a very young looking kid in the yard with a Bulldogs ball cap on. I got out of the vehicle and introduced myself to him. He was my prospect. He was a quiet person and led me into the modest but clean home.

I started by asking him questions but mom soon began answering for him. She mentioned being concerned that he would be ineligible due to being in special education. I replied that as long as he can pass the ASVAB test it would not be a problem. So I got out my computer and gave him the practice ASVAB test while I chatted with mom and dad.

He took the test with great difficulty. I learned that he had a reading disability. He has the same reading disability my son has. But he had a teacher who took a special interest in him and was helping him. Mr. Canada. The mom went on and on about how much Mr. Canada was helping her son, even changing teaching grades as her son grew up. I did not think this was odd. This has happened to my son. His reading teacher was his reading teacher for 3 grades, 3rd through 5th grade. She is a distant cousin and her son is in Joshua's grade, so it was natural for her to follow her son through elementary school. But I got a funny feeling about Mr. Canada.

I began to feel like I was being too suspicious as the mother went on and on about how much he was helping her son. He was getting all A's and B's and doing so well. He was a junior in high school and would graduate next year.My prospect finished the test. He scored a 2. Heavy sigh.I pointed to his math score and said "Well you did pretty good in Math, but we need to bring up that reading score" and closed my laptop.

I told him he needed to study, read and take some practice ASVAB's through his library. I encouraged his parents that when he brought up his score I would be happy to work with him. I feel like paying Mr. Canada a visit.

I am waaaay ahead of my "mission". I am getting a lot of attaboys, medals, trips, etc. I don't look at these kids as a number. THEY are my MISSION. So I don't "need" to enlist this kid. I would have LOVED to have seen a 35 and helped him be a diesel mechanic which is his life's desire. Damn. I would have loved to put him in an Armory close to home, given him a marketable skill and seen him soar....he may just yet.

Most of the prospects I meet are bored children with NO clue about life or what is going to hit them when they leave home. They are looking for "something", they want to make a difference in their world, they want to make something of themselves and I am sorry if it offends some but I BELIEVE in the Military. I believe that a disciplined life is the high road, I believe a life lived in the pursuit of making a difference and helping others IS a higher calling. Some are able to discipline themselves. Some need Boot Camp to kick start them, Hooah.

I am praying this kid can work hard and try and make at least a 16 or 17 on the ASVAB, then I will wait until the Army says they are open for category 5 enlistments and squeeze him in.

Friday, September 15, 2006

"I got the Blues..."

me in my dress blues with my handsome husband:

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Good News and Bad news

The good news first. I will probably put in 10 recruits this month. I am taking 5 down to MEPS on Monday, have 2 Prior Service guys enlisting in two weeks and have 12 or more good prospects for the rest of this month.

The bad news is... I am going to have to quit posting on the blog. I have very little time to get online at home much less post. Also my husband and I have decided we can do without a landline (phone line) and DSL at home. It will save us $120 a month and over $1200 a year. That is $1200 that can be applied to debt. Since my computer at work WILL NOT access blogspot, I will be able to post once in a blue moon from my husband's office or my MIL's computer. Trust me, I am not going to make special trips to blog. I just can't. So this is a farewell letter. I won't close down the blog because the original intent was to have a chronicle my kids could read of my National Guard years.

The worst news is what happened yesterday. My dear darling beautiful daughter had a really bad accident. She was riding a little toddler scooter, the kind you sit on and scoot around with your legs. It has four wheels and she would coast down a small incline to land safely on my MIL's back lawn. Knowing how 3 year olds are, I would follow her to make sure she stayed on the path and didn't hit a bump and get knocked off. When I left for work I was a hair's breath close to telling Grandma "Don't let her ride the scooter." But I decided she probably would be ok.

I was at work and got a call from my husband telling me to stay at work because they would be coming to meet me. "Grace has a cut." I was confused and thought; so?? WHy would that mean they would come meet me? Then I hear his brother in the background saying "No, tell her to come here..." and the sound of grandma shouting (praying) "Oh Jesus, Oh Jesus!" I am still confused and ask what the hell is going on. My very calm husband says "You need to come to mother's. We will wait on you."

I race to my car and make the 30 minute trip in 15 minutes. I see Grace with a huge bandage covering her left eye, blood everywhere and my brother-in-law (MD) saying "The surgeon is going to meet us at the clinic to let us know what we need to do." My husband drives as I sit in the back seat with Grace. He explains that the surgeon will decide if we need to head to Atlanta (to Scottish Rite Children's Hospital) and see a more highly qualified surgeon than he.

I learn that Grace was happily riding her scooter while Grandma sat and watched her. Her little scooter veered right and she went down a steep incline landing in a page wire & barbed wire fence.

We arrive at the clinic, he examines Grace breifly and says "I can take care of this, head to the Regional Hospital." We pile back into vehicles and head for the local regional hospital. We are escorted through a back entrance, bypassing the emergency room and all that chaos, to the pediatric center where my baby is prepped for surgery.

Let me tell you, I am a tough old solider, but seeing that little tiny baby girl sitting up on a gurney clutching her barbie doll to her chest and looking so incredibly lost and scared.... Well, my heart about ripped in two. My husband and I hugged each other thinking that we had such small problems compared to this. I left to go out to the car and got lost in the parking lot. Stress. I had to call my brother -in-law (who had left) to ask where we had parked. For the life of me I could not orient my mind to where we were parked. I wandered aimlessly looking before my mind realized I could do the car horn on the key fob and find my dammed car! I found my car and had to make two more trips before my mind would register what exactly I was out to get!

After 2 HOURS of plastic surgery, the surgeon came out to say it was deeper than he had anticipated but he did a good job. She was fine, recovering fine and we could meet her up in pediatrics. They wanted to keep her overnight since she had been under general an...anes... drugs for so long. Oh my baby looked so pityful! They wheeled her in and she was still asleep. You could see the injuries more clearly and she looked pretty banged up. She woke breifly while they moved her and she cried out for mommy! I gingerly picked her, hugged her and told her in my softest mommy voice "Mama's here, baby, mama's here!".

My husband went home to sleep and bring change of clothes to the hospital the next mroning. Needless to say I did not sleep. I kept an eye on her and my mind would just not stop. She woke at 6 am wanting to go to the potty. Then slept till 0730. She sat up and saw that the sun was up outside and began to cry out in an agitated voice "The dark is gone, oh noooo, the dark is gone!" I think that the realization that it was another day at we were STILL at this horrid place was too much for her.

Soon her IV was removed as well as the pulse monitor. I put on her fresh clothes and showed her how the bed worked. She had a BALL making the bed rise and lower and change shape.

I will be close to home over the next few days. I am so very glad that she did not lose her eye or worse, much worse. God is good.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Too Much Stress

I went to "sick call" on Friday. I live more than 50 miles from the nearest base so I can go to a civilian MD when I am sick. I got a cold from my daughter while in Savannah. In fact I thought I had bronchitis or maybe pneumonia. I was given a prescription and advised bed rest. "You are under a lot of stress, Lori. You need to get off your feet for a few days, take it easy and get plenty of rest."

A lot of strees, indeed. I croaked out "I love my job" to which he responded that he knew that but it didn't matter. My doctor is also my brother -in-law. He was a Navy MD for three years after he graduated from Medical School. He said that going from being a stay at home mom and being around my children as much as I was then getting a job recruiting (also a 24/7 job) was putting a lot of stress on my body. It has been a major change.

So, for the rest of Friday and all day Saturday I stayed in the bed taking my prescription and resting. I slept hard. I feel much better today although I am still hacking and coughing. I did some minor paperwork and scheduled an interveiw for Tuesday. I will probably reschedule the interveiw for tomorrow depending on how I feel. I would like to get her paperwork into MEPS so she can test and then physcial on Friday. We shall see.