Military recruiter goes on rant, says kids are dumb and on drugs

(Nov. 7, 2018) Recruits stand at parade rest on the toe line during a personnel inspection in their compartment in the USS Chicago recruit barracks at Recruit Training Command. More than 30,000 recruits graduate annually from the Navy's only boot camp. (U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Spencer Fling)

Military recruiting has never been an easy task for any servicemember. It is known to have high-set quotas and require long hour days but there are many other factors that make the job difficult.

On Sunday, an anonymous Navy recruiter -stationed in an unknown location- posted a public rant about the difficulties of their job.

“I’ve been on recruiting duty for the Navy for about 2.5 years now. Recruiting duty can and sometimes does suck, but not all the time. It also varies pretty significantly between branches and by location. My experience has been a mixed bag, but overall I feel I’ve benefitted from recruiting.

My first few months were terrible. I worked so hard for basically no results. I went to schools, drove all over my area, stopping at every conceivable location to talk to people about the Navy. I made hours of phone calls. It all amounted to nothing… kids don’t want to be bothered while they’re walking through halls at school; people you find out in town are just too non-confrontational to say no. Most appointments were no-shows and most who did show up failed the practice ASVAB, had records, medical problems, etc.

Eventually, it all clicked and I got much better at finding the right people. I ended up becoming one of the better recruiters and win a bunch of awards. I also got advanced to E6. Other perks include not deploying, seeing your family most nights, and possibly having more time for college classes. I started my masters when I got here and I’m a few weeks away from being done, so no matter what happens I can say that recruiting duty got me promoted and gave me time for school.

There are some really big downsides to recruiting, of course. For one, the percentage of people qualified for the Navy is shrinking every year. Kids just keep getting fatter, more injury prone and worse at math. Obviously, we get some awesome candidates with whom I’d proudly serve, but the vast majority of people we meet are so far from being qualified that I’ve become concerned for our future. There’s a test applicant for military service are required to take – the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). It’s a really, really easy test. The minimum score required for any branch is now only 31. I have seen countless applicants score in the single digits. In this area, most of the high school graduates cannot do basic math without a calculator. Questions as simple as “what is 7 divided by 2?” stump a good portion of them. I know that seems like an exaggeration, but it’s not. So anyway… most people fail the test. We give a shorter practice test to identify those likely to pass before issuing the real test.

A lot of people have disqualifying factors of a medical or legal nature as well. Every teenage male seems to have been diagnosed with ADD and asthma. Many also have several charges, mostly because it is now common practice for a kid to be charged with 5 or 6 offenses for a single incident. Getting caught with a joint can turn into possession, possession of paraphernalia, public nuisance, etc. We have complex rules regarding how many of which type of criminal offense can be waived. Most applicants have also used drugs recently, which means you can’t send them up to join right away.

Overall, getting someone in the Navy can be difficult and time-consuming. Then you get to deal with them after they join…. Don’t get me wrong, some of these kids are awesome, but there’s always a number who aren’t, and every stupid decision they make is our fault no matter what. Guy gets hurt? Our fault. Girl gets pregnant? Our fault. Kid wimps out at last minute the day before he’s supposed to go to boot camp?

We are in our dress blues taking a seven-hour drive to get bitched out by the CO in person. You have no idea how many of these kids send long text messages to us the day before trying to get out. Once they get to boot camp, about a third wimp out there, and they have started investigating recruiters every single time a recruit doesn’t make it through boot camp. Most of them lie and claim we told them something untrue, told them to lie or somehow forced them to join. Some recruiters lie, but the kids are usually making it up.

On top of all of that, Navy recruiting has changed to a new model where each person performs a different aspect of recruiting. Instead of one person doing it all, there are interviewers, paperwork people and people who train/mentor recruits before they go to boot camp. This sounds like a good idea, but it’s been a disaster. We are putting in maybe a third of what we used to, and a higher percentage of them wash out.

So that’s Navy recruiting… potentially very shitty, but potentially career-enhancing. It’s different for the other branches. The Marines get the worst of it. I went to the office the other night around 11 pm because I had forgotten something. The Marines were still there. This is common. The Air Force has it the easiest because everyone wants to join the branch with the shortest deployments, nicest bases and best food. The Army has the biggest budget and by far the most recruiters. They work hard but have smaller goals per recruiter. I’ve never seen a Coast Guard recruiter.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that I’ve only recruited in one region… so my experience might not represent what its like in other places.”

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