US Marines – The Making of a Marine – The Recruiting Side (Part 1 of 2)

The steps to become a Marine definitely aren’t easy. There are quite of things that a possible applicant has to go through to make it to bootcamp. Once an applicant arrives to bootcamp, he or she still faces challenges of being a Marine. It’s all apart of the process in the making of a Marine.

It all starts with the recruiter. A recruiter is a Marine who has been through Recruiter’s School to become a Marine recruiter. As of July 2006, the Western Region (all states West of Texas) had 1,061 Recruiters. During the month of July, the Western Recruiting Region’s mission was to contract 2,398 applicants, which averaged out to 2.26 contracts (number of applicants that has to enlist) per recruiter. 2.26 per recruiter may not seem like a lot, but it requires the Marine recruiter spends countless hours trying to get a person to become a possible applicant by utilizing many techniques. Out of 164 phone calls made by a recruiter, he or she will average about 1 applicant out of those 164 calls (164:1). Office traffic is when a person walks in to ask questions about the Marine Corps. Office traffic is 3:1. Area canvas is when the recruiter goes out to malls, fast food restaurants, high schools, etc… to try and make contact with individuals to talk about the Marine Corps. Area Canvas is 11:1. Home visit is when the recruiter can’t get a hold on an individual, so he or she goes by the individual’s house to make contact. Home Visit is 12:1. These are just a few methods that recruiters try to get people to join the Marine Corps. With these methods, the recruiter success rate is only at about 35% for the month of July, 2006. Since the fiscal year (October 1, 2005 – July 31, 2006), the Marine recruiters from the western recruiter region, which comprises of three regions, 8th , 9th, and 12th District, contacted nearly 76,500 individuals, and only contracted 14917, with just under a 20% success rate. Recently the Marine Corps Recruiting Region took their recruiting to My Space, the infamous website that has practically everyone’s attention, in hopes to reach a whole new base of individuals.

With all the stress that goes on in the life of a recruiter, the stress on family can build up. With the long hours, a lot of time is spent away from family. As a recruiter, you miss a lot of precious moments with your children, such a baseball games, ballet, school plays, and even birthdays. For the recruiter it is very depressing, but for the children, it can be devastating! They start to think the parent that’s on recruiting duty doesn’t want to be around them or that they don’t love them anymore. Very depressing!

At this point, the recruiter’s marriage is on thin ice. Usually the wife of a recruiter is tired of the time that is spent away from the family. She is the one who has to listen to the children cries over their father; it can take a toll on a mother who is now left to raise the children alone. When the recruiter finally comes home during the late evening, he is very tired, the children are sleep, and the wife wants to argue. All that does is add stress to the marriage. With all of the married recruiters in the western region, more than half of them ended in divorce. “In 2004, 2,235 Marines recruiters divorced, according to the Defense Manpower Data Center. This brought the divorce rate in the Marine Corps up to about 65 percent, 20 percent more than the average rate in the U.S., according to the DMDC” (LCpl R. Drew, 2005).

Getting an applicant in the office can be a headache for a recruiter. You have kids who degrade and totally disrespect recruiters. Not to mention, the parents of the kids are not always an easy sale. They slam doors in the recruiters face, call them murderers, baby killers, and express their hatred towards them. Plus the fact that there’s a war going on only hiders the situation. Recruiters are also faced with racism depending on where they are stationed and the color of their skin. Being faced with these things, just to name a few can take a toll on anybody. I can only imagine trying to sell the Marine Corps under these conditions. Not to mention, they have to go home and deal with a struggling marriage.

Once they finally get a possible applicant into the office, the recruiter must begin his resale of the Marine Corps. This is done by finding out what the individual wants out of life. They find out if they want tangible or intangible goals, to attend college, or just want to get away from home. Once the recruiter finds out what the potential applicant needs are, he or she gears the sales pitch around those needs. That makes it easier to try and resale the Marine Corps.

A recruiter can spend countless hours trying to convince a person to join the Marine Corps. Most would say, “Forget that individual and focus on someone else.” But for a recruiter, their career depends on them making their mission each month. On recruiting duty, you can be a hero for 15 straight months, but as soon as they have a bad month, they go from hero to zero. In turn, this causes some recruiters to go well beyond the grey area, such as creating false high school diplomas, telling applicants to lie about previous injuries, which would initially disqualify them, or trying to enlist autistic kids, just to name a few. One of the most extreme stories that I heard was from the Army. An applicant had attention deficit disorder (ADD) and just couldn’t retain anything. Somehow, this kid went to Army bootcamp. When he arrived to bootcamp, he had to retake the ASVAB. Needless to say, this recruit failed beyond belief. Come to find out, his recruiter had someone else take the test for him prior to going to bootcamp. When the applicant is found pre-qualified, he or she must take the ASVAB test. The ASVAB is the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery is a series of tests developed by the Department of Defense. “The ASVAB was originally designed to predict future academic and occupational success in military occupations. Since its introduction in 1968, the ASVAB has been the subject of extensive research. Numerous validation studies indicate the ASVAB assesses academic ability and predicts success in a wide variety of occupations” (Career Exploration, 2004).

If the applicant passes the ASVAB, he or she is considered for certain types of jobs depending on how well they did on the exam. If the applicant didn’t pass the ASVAB, they have to wait 30 days before taking it again. And if they fail a second time, they must wait 6 months before taking it a third time. The Marine Corps has a ton of jobs to offer. They can range from a high level of intelligence job to a simple lonely cook. Some individuals are not sure what they want to do, so let ultimately let the Marine Corps decide, which is something that I would not recommend.

Applicants must now pass a physical and go through a thorough background investigation. The purpose of DOD medical standards is to ensure that medically qualified personnel, accepted into the armed forces of the United States are:

(1) Free of contagious diseases that would likely endanger the health of other personnel.

(2) Free of medical conditions or physical defects that would require excessive time lost from duty for necessary treatment or hospitalization or would likely result in separation from the Army for medical unfitness.

(3) Medically capable of satisfactorily completing required training.

(4) Medically adaptable to the military environment without the necessity of geographical area limitations.

(5) Medically capable of performing duties without aggravation of existing physical defects or medical conditions.

During the background check, the following can be checked: driving record; Social Security number; credit record; criminal record; education; court records; workers’ compensation; bankruptcy filings and character references. They may also talk to neighbors and past employers about them, and check into their medical records, property ownership, drug testing results and see if they’re on any sex offender lists.

Once all the requirements are met, the applicant is placed in the Delayed Entry Program, which means they are just waiting to go to bootcamp for various reasons, such as they need to finish high school or waiting to get off of probation for a minor offense. While in the Delayed Entry Program, many applicants began to have second thoughts. They wonder if becoming a Marine was the right choice. A lot of their friends tend to call them stupid for wanting to join the military, especially since there is a war going on. And with all the pressures in the life of a teenager, they become scared and no longer want to be a Marine. When this happens, it becomes one of the biggest headaches and stresses for a recruiter. Now a recruiter must find a way to keep the applicant motivated, which isn’t the easiest thing to do. At this point, you have recruiters going deep back into that grey area. The day prior to an applicant going to bootcamp is usually spent with loved ones. The applicants spends time saying goodbye to family and friends. In the evening, he or she is picked up by their recruiter and taken to a hotel for the evening for the final process. The morning is spent having breakfast with other applicants and getting their final paperwork and airline ticket. That afternoon, the applicant makes it to the airport to get on a plane, which will be taking them to Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), San Diego, California, where the actual transformation begins.