NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The 2014 National Guard Rookie Recruiter of the Year, Staff Sgt. Brian S. Merritt became the first Recruiting and Retention Noncommissioned Officer to enlist 11 applicants within 90 consecutive days April 22, 2015, at the Virginia National Guard Recruiting Station in Newport News, Va.
The nationwide “9 in 90 Recruiting Challenge” qualifies the first 250 National Guard production recruiters who enlist nine applicants during a 90-day window. Winners will attend the annual Guard Strength Sustainment Awards Program held in Washington, D.C.
“The challenge is designed to push recruiters to overachieve in the 3rd quarter of the year,” said Merritt. “Competition is a healthy way to recognize and ultimately reward the achievements of recruiters.”
Representing the top 10% of all active recruiters in the nation, the 250 winners will share best practices and celebrate with other top performers during a national awards ceremony set to recognize superior production performance during the challenge.
“This event also gives successful recruiters to showcase their successes in front of their peers,” Merritt said. “In my experience friendly competition within and across state lines pushes the whole force to do their jobs faster and better. The challenge incentivizes us to do more than our share of the mission.”
The Fort Pickett-based Virginia Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion has a three tenant mission of recruiting, retention and attrition management.
“As a noncommissioned officer, my two basic responsibilities are accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my Soldiers,” said Merritt. “I believe being a recruiter has made me a better NCO and that focusing on the three tenants of our mission gives the basis to exercise these responsibilities.”
By exceeding the minimum requirement, Merritt was also awarded a “Golden Ticket” which provides additional benefits during the Guard Strength Sustainment Awards Program event, such as professional development excursions throughout Washington, D.C. and being personally recognized by the Gen. Frank Grass, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, during the awards ceremony.
“I’m really looking forward to attending the GSSAP later this year. I think that these interactions will allow the really successful recruiters to learn how to become even better and bring what they learn back to their states,” said Merritt.
Each state has different annual recruiting targets set by the National Guard Bureau which form the basis of the states’ recruiting mission.
“Staff Sergeant Merritt is consistently a top producer in Virginia and accomplished the qualifying nine enlistments in only 16 production days,” said Maj. Bruce K. Delaporte, accession branch chief for the Guard Strength Division at the National Guard Bureau.
“The bottom line is that the force is changing,” explained Lt. Col. Everton E. Nevers, commander of the Virginia Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion. “The current recruiting environment is tougher than it’s been in years, Staff Sgt. Merritt immediately stepped up, took the challenge and has just smoked this competition. He was already a dedicated and hardworking Soldier, but it never hurts to throw down the gauntlet because recruiters are, by nature, extremely competitive.”
Virginia National Guard recruiters are volunteer members of the Active Guard/Reserve program and are expected to be “on call” 24 hours a day, seven days a week, explained Merritt.
“The pressures of being on call 24 hours and seven days a week can take its toll on the recruiter and their family,” Merritt said. “As Soldiers, we understand this duty and embrace its challenges. I can honestly say that I could not have reached this milestone without the full support of my wife and children. Their understanding, sacrifice and ability to share me with the Guard have been the most integral pieces to my success.”