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Drill Sergeant Kelley McHugh and the Recruit Sustainment Program 
Drill Sergeant McHugh 
Drill Sergeant Kelley McHugh stands in formation with Soldiers of the Recruit Sustainment Brigade (courtesy photo)
By Lt. Col. Christine Hoffmann, Massachusetts National Guard 

- Drill Sergeant Kelley McHugh is the 2013 Massachusetts Army National Guard NCO of the Year and is also a graduate of the 10 week United States Army Drill Sergeant School along with five fellow NCOs in the Recruiting and Retention Battalion. The drill sergeants task and purpose in the Recruit Sustainment Program are to train and challenge new recruits mentally, physically and emotionally in preparation for Basic Combat Training and their careers in the Massachusetts Army National Guard. There are three training sites in the RSP, which average a total of 500 recruits on a drill weekend: Camp Curtis Guild, Camp Edwards, and Ware, Mass.

McHugh is the only female drill sergeant in the Recruiting and Retention Battalion. She is very proud of her accomplishments “It's a very prideful feeling. I work for and alongside many great NCO's of the Recruiting and Retention Battalion within the Recruit Sustainment Program. The RSP is a program to help new recruits not just prepare for Basic Combat Training, but begin a foundation of becoming a Soldier.”

 “It's almost been two years working within the ranks of the RSP as a drill sergeant. It's been a surreal experience because I, myself, went through the RSP just six years ago and if you asked me then what I would be doing now, I would never have guessed that I would have gotten the opportunities that I have. It's great to work and mentor new recruits and help mold them into stand up Citizen-Soldiers. I always tell every one of them, as they ship out to basic training, that they aren't the first ones and won't be the last, so to give it their all. I enjoy seeing them all come back from training and hope in a few years that I see some of them in my place, it's absolutely within their capabilities,” said McHugh.

“As their drill sergeant I think it's pertinent that we know who our recruits are, what makes them tick? To do that you have to know how they think and what they think. Part of the NCO Creed is I know my Soldiers and will always place their needs above my own. Although we get a full drill weekend to accomplish this, I assign an extra task of writing a short essay. First off it shows if they follow their direct orders and how well their attention to detail is, but it allows all recruits, first drill or fifth drill to say whatever they would like without the fear of judgment from their peers. It grants me the opportunity to really know my recruits. All subjects relate to the Army National Guard, recently, the focus was: What drove each recruit to join the best in the nation, The MASSACHUSETTS Army National Guard. After reading this particular essay from Recruit Spc. Daniel McVety, I had to share his words; especially being that is was his first drill. I hope that you find his words as motivating as I have. I hope that his words not only make you feel proud of our uniform, but proud of what our future Soldiers will bring to their units after completion of basic and AIT. Know what your Soldiers are capable of; know what they can bring to the table for your team, your unit, your community.”

“I know a lot of people forget that to make the complete Soldier it takes having those basic Soldier skills and the pride to uphold the "simple" things, but I hope these recruits hold onto the message we try to send off with them to basic and don't become complacent,” said McHugh.

 Why I Joined

            I’m exhausted, my muscles are still aching, and I smell bad, yet I write this essay with a renewed sense of enthusiasm as a lifelong dream begins to come true. I have just completed my first drill with my RSP unit, which is the first step in a long journey that I have wanted to take ever since I was a young boy. My first memories of anything to do with the military would have to be sitting along a road as I watched local National Guard units at a Memorial Day parade. I remember thinking “those guys are the coolest guys I have ever seen.” That feeling of wonder and enthusiasm with the military have grown with me as I attended air shows with my family, and was even allowed to sit in the cockpit of my cousins fighter jet. From those early days in my youth I have been saying “that is what I want do when I grow up.”

          The feelings of pride I have felt for my country and admiration for the dedication that the men and women of the Armed Forces instilled in me as a young boy continues to be present in my life. As I continued to express my desire to be a member of our nation’s Armed Forces, my life came to one of many cross roads where a decision would have to be made. I had two goals in my life, which I was adamant about achieving, joining the military, and attending a competitive business school. I chose to attend college, a decision which I do not regret today. However, many of my close friends immediately entered the service. As I would hear stories about what they were doing, and what it was like to finally be in, it reconfirmed my intentions of joining. A few years later I was at my college graduation ceremony, and watched as the lead ROTC candidate received a saber as recognition for his achievements. It was then I felt an emotion, which I try to live my life without; regret. It was at that time that I formed my plan to finally commit to the life I wanted to be a part of. I had been offered a job to work in Pennsylvania, and it was there that I would commit myself to joining the National Guard. My plan was to settle down with my civilian career, and then enlist as soon as I was comfortable. Then life happened, my final answer to my lifelong question began to look further from the reality of what would actually occur. One other thing around this time that I noticed was that no matter who you tell, but if you say “I am joining the military” everyone will give you their opinion on it, whether asked or not. It was also around this time that I learned that the only person’s opinion about it that mattered was my own. That opinion had stood the test of time as I talked passion and pride about the desire to join the service.

          Two years later, I can happily say that I am on the doorstep of this new world. I have taken my time, done my homework, and I begin this transition with a passion that keeps me awake at night. Not having the military family ties, and having several options as to where I could have gone in life, I am where I want to be. This is where I belong. One of the greatest things happened to me today; I became a part of a unit of 40 young adults who are exactly where they want to be and exactly where they belong. To witness the same passion, which has been such a key component in the decisions I have made in life mirrored back to me is a thrill. With some luck, we will all get to be a part of an organization, which lets us be “the coolest guys in the world” and that is what drives me to succeed.


                       Spc. Daniel McVety
                       Worcester “Vipers” RSP