CHEYENNE – Wyoming Army National Guard recruiters are well known for preparing recruits for basic training through the Recruit Sustainment Program and are furthering their ready reputation by pre-training their own before attending the Guard’s recruiting course at the national Professional Education Center.
For three days in a small classroom at the Joint Forces Readiness Center, in Cheyenne, Sgt. 1st Class Edwardo Herrera, is teaching the class he developed several years ago to nine soldiers who are changing careers to become recruiting and retention noncommissioned officers.
Everything from proper use of a government vehicle and credit card, to special enlistment programs, to addressing a class full of potential recruits at a school is taught, referenced and researched in focused modules for the new RRNCOs looking at becoming full timers in the Recruiting and Retention Battalion.
“It’s a pre-PEC course to assist the new recruiters and retention NCOs prior to PEC’s non-career recruiter course. That’s a tough course, and a lot of people were getting sent home,” Herrera, the RRB NCOIC, said. “In the two years I’ve been doing this, we have a 100 percent pass rate at PEC.”
He said the program has been picked up by other states and he has taught it around the region. Two Montana Army National Guard soldiers were in this most recent class after finding out how helpful it could be the hard way.
“I just failed the PEC class earlier this month,” said Sgt. Jessica Pennington. “I heard about this afterward. Everyone was asking, ‘Did you come to this class?’ I’m feeling more comfortable now, but at the school, they just go so fast - boom, boom, boom-and you have no idea what you’re going into. It’s so good to get the info in small pieces here.”
Herrera knows the curriculum well, and has the students teach each other some of the more difficult subjects. He also encourages them to continue learning.
“They will spoon-feed you this stuff at the school house,” he tells the class, “But I think you’ll get a better understanding of it this way, and doing the research in the regulations. You have to know this stuff and be the subject matter experts. Recruiting is like a foreign language to a lot of people and you have to stay proficient on all our regs and policies for everyone-leaders, applicants, everyone.”
Sgt. Auhsten Buckallew, thinks his experience in two Wyoming Guard units can help when he assumes the role of retention NCO, following graduation from PEC.
“I want to help. I’ve seen the retention numbers and we’re in the negative,” he explained. “I’ve got experience with Joes who got out, and their specific reasons. I think I can address those and do something about it. I’m not sure what specific units I’ll be working with yet, but I’m sure communication with the commanders and the respective units will be key.”
Spc. Randall Almeida is joining the RRB ranks from the state’s Medical Detachment. He’s been working as a temp with recruiting and has enjoyed it. He said with a full time recruiting job, he can continue his medical training, earn a degree and a good living.
“I’m not married; no kids-I can handle it,” he said with a smile.