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Recruiting Command Builds on Past Success 

Seventy Soldiers, from all six New England states and New York, who recently returned from overseas deployments, participate in a re-enlistment ceremony during a pre-game celebration at the New England Patriots season-opener at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro Mass., September 7, 2008. Following the ceremony, the Soldiers watched the New England Patriots take on the Kansas City Chiefs from a luxury suite. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. James Lally)

By Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Maes, Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs 

MILFORD, Mass. – Massachusetts topped the other 53 states and territories and earned national recognition at the National Guard recruiting and retention training workshop in Orlando, Fla. in October. The Massachusetts Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Command took home awards for enlisted strength, attrition mission, retention mission, accessions mission, and recruit sustainment program mission. The Massachusetts Army Guard finished fiscal year 2008 at a strength of more than 6,200 Soldiers.

Key to this success is the ongoing hard work of the Soldiers assigned to the command and some exciting, new initiatives, like the Massachusetts Guard’s partnership with the New England Patriots. 

“Five years ago, we approached the Patriots organization and began a marketing relationship which now involves all six New England states and New York,” said Lt. Col John J. Driscoll, commander of the Recruiting and Retention Command. “This has become a National Guard Bureau program that began with the Massachusetts Army National Guard.”

Two times a year the Patriots welcome Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans on the field to re-enlist before a game and then stay on to watch from a luxury suite.  The appreciation of the program with Soldiers is wide-spread. 

“I have witnessed the program first hand on numerous occasions and to see the excitement and joy on the Soldiers faces when they come off the field is priceless,” said Staff Sgt. Jamie J. Gaitan, marketing noncommissioned officer for the Recruiting and Retention Command.

The National Guard has been building positive relationships with high-profile celebrities in sports and music, including NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Formula One racer Dan Wheldon, and rockers 3 Doors Down and Kid Rock. Basketball legend Michael Jordan recently joined with the Guard and unveiled the 2009 No. 23 National Guard Michael Jordan Motor Sports Superbike during the training workshop in Orlando.

Partnerships like these raise the public’s awareness of the National Guard and help make the difficult job of recruiting a bit easier. Other programs, like the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program and Every Soldier a Recruiter have also done much to improve the Guard’s recruiting efforts and to increase the quality of recruits. These programs promote strength from within by recognizing and rewarding those who help the Army National Guard achieve its goals. Soldiers can earn up to $2,000 for each qualified person they bring to the Guard. 

“The best recruiter is a happy, productive Soldier who has the credibility first hand to tell the National Guard story,” said Driscoll.

Driscoll, who recently took command of Recruiting and Retention Command, has served with recruiting before and is ready for the new challenges that await him. The job of recruiting and maintaining a quality force is difficult and requires many sacrifices to be made by the members of the command. 

“Recruiting is unique in that it is a very quantifiable mission that runs 24/7/365 with tremendous demands on individual Soldiers, their families, and those who support them in the command.” said Driscoll. 

Despite the challenges, Recruiting Command is off to a great start in fiscal year 2009 with 143 new Soldiers accessed to the Massachusetts Army National Guard in October -- the highest one-month total since October 2001. 

Driscoll expressed his pride in the organization and said, “F.D.R. said that “in its truest sense, freedom is not bestowed, it must be achieved.” Aside from all the personal and professional benefits of being a member of the Massachusetts Army National Guard, there are very few occupations, whether full- or part-time, in which one can become part of history and make a difference. Here you can.” 

For more information about the Massachusetts National Guard, visit http://www.mass.gov/guard/recruiting/index.htm.