Va. Guard recruiter honored by Army Guard for outstanding performance

Army Staff Sgt. Brian Merritt, right, a recruiting and retention noncommissioned officer form the Virginia Army National Guard, is awarded the Army Commendation Medal by Army Lt. Gen. Timothy Kadavy, the director of the Army National Guard, during a ceremony at Arlington Hall Station, Aug. 3, 2015 in Arlington, Va. Merritt was recognized for his achievements during the 9 in 90 Recruiting Challenge, a challenge to Army Guard recruiters to enlist nine recruits in 90 days. Merritt was able to enlist 17 during challenge. (Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Darron Salzer, National Guard Bureau/Released)

Army Staff Sgt. Brian Merritt, right, a recruiting and retention noncommissioned officer form the Virginia Army National Guard, is awarded the Army Commendation Medal by Army Lt. Gen. Timothy Kadavy, the director of the Army National Guard, during a ceremony at Arlington Hall Station, Aug. 3, 2015 in Arlington, Va. Merritt was recognized for his achievements during the 9 in 90 Recruiting Challenge, a challenge to Army Guard recruiters to enlist nine recruits in 90 days. Merritt was able to enlist 17 during challenge. (Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Darron Salzer, National Guard Bureau/Released)

ARLINGTON, Va. – Staff Sgt. Brian Merritt, a recruiting and retention noncommissioned officer from the Virginia Army National Guard, was one of 86 recruiters nationwide honored by Army Lt. Gen. Timothy Kadavy, the director of the Army National Guard, during a ceremony at Arlington Hall Station, Aug. 3, 2015, in Arlington, Va. The nationwide “9 in 90 Recruiting Challenge” asked recruiters to enlist nine applicants during a 90-day window. Merritt, the 2014 National Guard Rookie Recruiter of the Year, finished with a total of 17 accessions in the time frame, good enough for second in the nation.

“This challenge allowed me to reach down and pick myself up by the boot laces and go that extra mile, knowing that I was being compared to other recruiters not only in my state, but across the nation,” Merritt said.

Going that extra mile isn’t a new attitude for Merritt.

“The hours are long and it’s a very demanding job, but I don’t mind that because I care about the Soldiers that I am putting in,” he said. “I follow their progression and I like seeing their achievements and knowing that I played a part in making their lives better.”

Earlier this year a challenge was issued to Army National Guard recruiters across the country: enlist nine new recruits in 90 days.

It was not going to be easy when considering the average is about three in that same time frame, but the challenge would help the Army Guard stay on track to maintain its end strength, it was a way to motivate the recruiting force through a little healthy competition.

“We needed to find a way to motivate the recruiting force, and the ‘9 in 90’, which was nine accessions in 90 days, was the end result,” said Army Lt. Col. Bruce Delaporte, chief of the Accessions Branch with the Army Guard.

Eighty-six recruiters met the challenge and Delaporte said the top recruiter was able to put in 18 in that same period.

That top recruiter was Army Sgt. Amadou Traore, a recruiting and retention noncommissioned officer with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, who has been in recruiting for a year.

“When I first heard about the challenge, I wanted to pull in the most applicants and try to be number one in the nation,” Traore said, adding that his strategy was to simultaneously send qualified people to the Military Entrance Processing Station, or MEPS, and call potential new recruits.

On average, Traore said he was sending 13 applicants to MEPS per month.

“When I am interviewing people in the office, they ask me what is the downside of joining the [Army] National Guard and I honestly do not know any downside,” he said.

The top 29 recruits who had more than nine accessions were awarded the Army Commendation Medal.

Reporting by Staff Sgt. Darron Salzer of the National Guard Bureau Public Affairs and Capt. Andrew Czaplicki of the Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

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