By Capt. Dayna Rowden
FORT PICKETT, Va. – A year after its activation in Virginia in February 2006, the Guard Recruiter Assistance Program (G-RAP) is a huge success, not only for the Virginia Air and Army National Guard, but also the new recruits and the Soldiers who recruit them.
Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia said, “G-RAP is making a tremendous difference…When a Virginia National Guard Member can earn $2000 by enlisting someone in either the Air or Army National Guard, it is a win for all of us.”
G-RAP is a voluntary program for Air and Army National Guard members to serve as part-time Recruiting Assistants. After the Soldier fills out an online application on www.GuardRecruitingAssistant.com, a contractor hires the service member to network, recruit, and provide support for potential “Soldiers” and “Airmen” who possess the qualities necessary to succeed in the Guard.
The National Guard established the program to increase the number of new recruits and the number of qualified Soldiers. G-RAP has done its job by increasing Virginia National Guard Force Strength from 6,970 in March 2006 to 7,637 in March 2007. In fiscal year 2005-2006, Virginia National Guard recruited 1,139 new Soldiers. In fiscal year 2006-2007, the number rose to 1,707, with 459 recruits coming from G-RAP. In addition to the increase in the number of new recruits, the percentage of new recruits possessing high school diplomas has increased from 86.4% in 2006 to 92% in 2007.
The success of G-RAP can not only be measured in increased Force Strength, but also in the level of support new recruits receive. After Recruiting Assistants identify and pre-screen potential “Soldiers and Airmen,” Recruiting Assistants facilitate meetings with local Recruiting and Retention personnel. Recruiting Assistants work closely with potential “Soldiers and Airmen” and Recruiting and Retention personnel to help them toward accession in the Guard.
During this process and after recruits enlist, Recruiting Assistants encourage new recruits and reinforce the decision to join the Guard by involving new recruits in physical training to properly prepare for basic training, providing support and information to new recruits and their families, taking recruits to the first Recruit Sustainment Program drill, and maintaining contact with new recruits while they are in basic training and Advanced Individual Training. Through these community-based support efforts to mentor new recruits, the program helps to not only increase the quantity of new recruits but also to improve the quality of recruits entering the Guard.
The key to the program’s success is the Recruiting Assistant. The program requires Recruiting Assistants to dedicate off-duty hours to the recruiting process, but that fact has not swayed Soldiers’ interest in G-RAP. The program continues to attract new Recruiting Assistants through its monetary benefits. After a new recruit enlists, the Recruiting Assistant will receive an initial payment of $1,000, with a second $1,000 payment after the new recruit ships to basic training. Now, in lieu of receiving a $2,000 payment for one accession, the Recruiting Assistant can opt for 12 months of individual health care coverage.
Since G-RAP’s activation, 2,409 Virginia National Guard Soldiers registered to be Recruiting Assistants. Some Soldiers, like Sgt. Kieth Syndor of the 183rd Personnel Service Detachment, have gone above and beyond with their recruiting efforts. Syndor recommended 39 potential recruits. Of those recruits, 10 enlisted, and five more recruits shipped to basic training, earning Syndor $15,000.
G-RAP receives praise from the new recruits, Soldiers, Retention and Recruiting personnel, and top leadership. Lt. Col. Paul F. Griffin, commander of Virginia’s Recruiting and Retention Command, said, “It’s great!”
Newman took the training himself on the G- RAP website and “encourages each (National Guard member) to do the same.”
Through its measured success in increasing Force Strength numbers, improving the recruiting process for new recruits and giving Soldiers a chance to earn some money, G-RAP is an outstanding recruiting tool benefiting everyone.