“In order to recruit 4,000 enlisted personnel, the recruiting offices have to interview 40,000 applicants,” said Chief Petty Officer Benjamin Harris, recruiter in charge, recruiting office Los Angeles. “Only 80 percent of those applicants processed by the recruiting offices will complete boot camp at Cape May.”
The Los Angeles and Riverside recruiting offices are staffed with more than 15 recruiters combined and epresent a diverse background of Coast Guard military specialties. Recruiters are primarily responsible for outreach to schools and colleges and for screening applicants over the phone. The recruiters use the basic requirements for entry into the service, such as age, health, education, tattoos, drug use, criminal record and credit history during the screening process. Applicants who meet these minimum standards are scheduled for in-person interviews at the recruiting office.
Those passing the in-person interview are scheduled for an appointment at the Military Entrance Processing Service (MEPS), where the applicants take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test, receive a physical, choose a specialty, and if successful, are sworn in as members of the Coast Guard.
Once the recruiting office is notified by MEPS that a candidate is qualified, the candidate is called by the recruiting office staff and asked to choose a date to begin basic training. From the time a date is picked to the actual reporting date, the candidate undergoes an extensive background check by the Coast Guard’s Security Center.
In 2018, Harris expects that the target number of enlisted personnel will be reduced to 3,900. However, the Los Angeles recruiting office will still need to recruit seven reserves, 20 officers, and 120 enlisted personnel as part of that quota. Most of the reserve applicants are interested in maritime law enforcement, so it’s the recruiter’s job to expose them to other opportunities for service and provide them options for their final decision.
“It is not an easy job to meet these goals. Every recruiting office is making an extra effort to meet the personnel needs of the Coast Guard by using outreach, social media and personal referrals,” said Harris. “However, the biggest challenge facing this office is the size of its service area and the highly concentrated population within that geographical area. Los Angeles County has hundreds of public and private high schools and over 20 community colleges, in addition to 4-year colleges and universities.”
Chief Petty Officer Mario Gordillo, recruiter in charge, Riverside recruiting office, echoed the geographical challenge, but added that the area of responsibility for the Riverside recruiting office is Riverside and San Bernardino counties. San Bernardino county is the largest county in the continental United States. Further, this office is responsible for recruiting in extreme climate zones ranging up to 120 degrees in heat and even snow in the San Bernardino Mountains during winter.
The Riverside office also seeks partnerships with high schools, community colleges, and 4-year colleges and universities in the area. There are 108 high schools and 59 colleges and universities between the two counties.
“One hurdle we have to overcome is that the leadership of the JROTC programs at these schools as well as the administrators of these schools and colleges are associated with veterans of one of the four service branches within the Department of Defense and have little knowledge about the Coast Guard. We are working very hard to change that, but progress is slow. Once they have knowledge about the Coast Guard, they send us referrals,” said Gordillo.
Finding 4,000 recruits is an unenviable task, but the personnel of the recruiting offices are and will continue to meet their goals. You can help by referring qualified candidates to the recruiting offices or to the Coast Guard’s website.
This article appears courtesy of Coast Guard News and may be found in its original form here.
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.