Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece about recruiting duty written by a military spouse. Her views are her own and not the views of her husband, the Army or USAREC.
by Bailey Cummins, Guest Contributor
Our journey into the world of military recruiting was an unexpected one.
Nine months after marrying my soldier, I had finally landed a full-time, well-paying job interview in my field (as I had been under- and unemployed since our wedding.) I remember texting my husband and telling him how excited I was for my interview that the employer scheduled for the very next day, yet my husband didn’t seem as excited as I had hoped he would be. When I arrived home, I learned why.
That same day, he discovered he had been DA-selected (“voluntold”) to be an Army recruiter. He would be starting recruiting school in 3 weeks and we would be moving in a little over 3 months.
Recruiting is not the cushy, 8-to-5 job that many people imagine.
The hours are long with early morning PT sessions and late nights with appointments or finishing paperwork. The work cell phone is always ringing with calls and texts and Facebook messages. Recruiters work 6, sometimes 7 days a week, and even when they’re not working, they’re still “working.”
Every situation, from grocery shopping to going to church, is seen as a potential prospecting opportunity; you never know when you’ll run into a potential future soldier or someone who knows a potential future soldier.
The DONZAs and 4-day weekends for major holidays are a thing of the past. Taking leave is very difficult, especially if you are in a smaller recruiting center where you’re short-staffed on a normal day, let alone when someone is on vacation.
Even if a recruiting center makes mission (their quota), it’s never enough. There are always more recruits out there, just waiting to be found, and it’s my husband’s job to find them. A job that he didn’t ask for, but he’s working tirelessly to do well.
In a country where the vast majority of people are unqualified to enlist, finding those who not only want to serve their country but are qualified to do so is often difficult.
It’s like attempting to find a needle in a haystack all day, every day for 36 consecutive months. At the end of the day, my husband comes home emotionally drained from being told “no” over and over again, and there’s nothing I can do to help him.
Recruiting Is Draining On Us As A Couple
Our time together is scarce, partly because of his work schedule, and partly because with the very limited free time he does have, he’s often too exhausted to do much more than relax at home.
Whenever we do have a date night (or even just go out in public), we have to be careful with what we say and do because we’re always representing the Army. It can feel like we’re always “on display” with no escape from his work, especially because we live in a rural community where everyone knows everyone else. Even when we try to just “be normal,” people still notice my husband’s high-and-tight haircut or my Southern accent that distinguish us from the locals.
As one of only 3 active duty military families in town, it can be frustrating dealing with doctor’s offices and pharmacies that have never accepted Tricare Prime Remote before.
I’m the first active duty military spouse my employer has ever had, which means they’ve had to adapt to policies like the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act.
I’m still waiting for the day that my husband or I get pulled over for not having a license plate on the front of our cars like all of the other vehicles here because our vehicles are registered in our home state (which issues only one license plate for the back of the car.)
Sometimes, people view my husband and his coworkers as the “used car salesmen” of the Army, which is a stereotype I absolutely hate.
They are soldiers, first and foremost, doing the job that the Army assigned them to, and doing it to the best of their ability.
Instead of being on the front lines, they find people to become the soldiers that will ship overseas. As the cadence goes, they “put them in boots.” Regardless of whether a recruiter is DA-select and will be returning to a line unit at the end of their assignment (like my husband) or they converted to the 79R MOS to finish their military career as a recruiter, they have all had a different MOS previously. As I sometimes tell people, no soldier joins the Army to be a recruiter.
Recruiting Duty Is Lonely
I don’t have many close friends here. Unlike when we lived on post and everyone could relate to the life as a military spouse, it’s hard to find people who I can relate to. Additionally, I’m in a different season of life as most of the people I’ve met. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some women whom I’m getting to know through my church and work, but I still get incredibly lonely at times.
I know military life is what you make of it, so even though the cons outweigh the pros numbers-wise, I do my best to focus on the good things about this unique assignment we’ve been given and forget about the negative things.
Because we’re far away from a base, potential employers didn’t look at my resume and automatically assume I’m a military spouse. I was able to land a well-paying, full-time job.
We ended up in an area where there are no military bases nearby, which means we’ll get to travel through an area of the country that we would never live otherwise.
My husband and I both have the opportunity to share what military life is like with people whose only interactions with the military are a friend-of-a-friend or what they see on TV. Likewise, we get to experience a local culture and meet people we wouldn’t otherwise.
We may not have chosen for my husband to be a recruiter, but we’re going to make the best of it nonetheless. It’s just a small fraction of my husband’s time in the military and an even smaller fraction of our marriage together.
Soon enough, the stresses of recruiting, and of military life in general, will be a distant memory.
Bailey is a twenty-something newlywed military wife from Kentucky currently living in the (cold!) Midwest with her husband, dog, and cat. She’s currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and aspires to work in Human Resources to help military spouses and veterans find professional employment. On the weekends, you can find her accomplishing one of her numerous goals, reading a book, or writing another post for her website, Becoming Bailey. You can connect with Bailey on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.