GROVETOWN, Ga. – Total Force recruiting continues to find ways to integrate and become one team as the Georgia Air National Guard has placed a recruiter inside a regular Air Force recruiting office for the first time since embarking on a Total Force recruiting enterprise approach.
“This a tremendous opportunity for active-duty and Air National Guard recruiters to work together to market both components of the Air Force under a single comprehensive marketing strategy in one storefront,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Grabowski, Georgia Air National Guard assistant adjutant general. “This partnership helps both of the components in letting potential recruits know there are multiple ways to join the Air Force team by serving part time or full time. The Georgia Air National Guard is proud to join with our active-duty partners in recruiting the next generation of Air Force professionals.”
The Total Force recruiting enterprise includes the regular Air Force, the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard. Total Force recruiting also encompasses the Air Force Academy admissions, Air Force Civilian Service and Air Force ROTC. Also, the Air Force now recruits for America’s newest military branch, the U.S. Space Force.
For the ANG, the new office also represents having a recruiter in the second largest metropolitan area in Georgia for the first time. In addition, its proximity to the Army’s Fort Gordon will enhance its ability to reach more prior-service members.
“I am extremely excited with our decision. The presence of the Air National Guard in the Augusta area presents an exciting opportunity for both our Total Force recruiting mission and the local community,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jose Padilla, Headquarters Georgia Air National Guard state recruiting production superintendent. “Augusta has one of the largest populations in Georgia, and holds important industries and missions, such as cyber and intelligence. In addition, it is a military friendly community. This is the perfect example of the recruiting zones we need to be capitalizing from.”
While the new office is still referred to as the Augusta office it has moved to Grovetown, a city just outside of Augusta in the metropolitan area. The old office had been there for 40-plus years and it was not meeting specific requirements needed to house multiple recruiters.
“When selecting the new office, we took into account the growth and safety potential for the long term and settled for the Grovetown location,” said Staff Sgt. Derek Knight, an enlisted accessions recruiter with the 336th Recruiting Squadron. “It is in a growing military community and is one of the best places to live near Augusta. With the new bigger office, we are able to house a third recruiter and still have plenty of room. Having an in-house Guard recruiter will help us in overall recruiting and it gives our prior service an opportunity to cross over or serve again.”
Having a brand new office in a prime location is an exciting concept for the ANG recruiter who is set to join the team.
“The new Augusta office is in a great, accessible location that has an untapped market for the Air National Guard,” said Tech. Sgt. Brittany Hopkins, a Georgia Air National Guard recruiter in Augusta and Savannah. “Augusta is the second largest city in Georgia trailing Atlanta. I plan to start out going two days a week to establish myself and to get a lay of the land. I have been to Augusta once to do the initial visit with the active-duty recruiters. I live the closest to Augusta out of all the other recruiters and I wanted to expand my personal recruiting market as well.”
The new office is also located very close to Fort Gordon and has many prior-service members living in the area.
“With so many prior-service military in our local area and the active-duty Air Force cutting prior service slots yearly, we as active duty recruiters can’t cater to them and just have to pass along their information,” Knight said. “Having that Guard recruiter will help them and give them more opportunities that sometimes active duty can’t give them.”
Knight said that four or five prior-service people walk into their office on a monthly basis, and having a Guard recruiter in house will assist those interested in continuing to serve. Prior-service applicants are a win for both the Guard and Reserve recruiters.
“During Fiscal 2020, the bulk of the Georgia Air National Guard enlistments and oaths were actually prior-service applicants,” Padilla said. “Prior-service applicants hold a wealth of knowledge and experiences which they are able to bring to the table almost instantly. They have a big picture perspective, which is key to being effective leaders. We are always looking for individuals with these type of skillsets. Having an Air National Guard recruiter on site will open up vacant opportunities available here in Georgia to the prior-service community.”
Hopkins is an example of a prior-service member who found her way into the ANG as she served on active duty in the Marine Corps in combat communications before joining the Guard.
“Starting out in the military as active duty will help with the prior-service market. I have the ‘been there, done that’ experience were it would change their perception of the ANG,” Hopkins said. “Also, some prior service are hesitant going into a part-time military thinking they will lose their active-duty benefits. Most benefits carry over and they potentially have a chance to go back full-time as a technician or on Active Guard Reserve if they are interviewed and are selected for that position.”
One of the keys for the co-located office producing initial success is creating strong relationships within the office and community.
“The success of the Air Force has always been determined by relationships. Total Force recruiting is the future because of how dynamic each component is,” Hoover said. “Initiating the first steps toward bridging the gap between service elements was key in establishing the Total Force recruiting concept. I knew that Tech. Sgt. Hopkins had the ‘know how’ to create the bonds that would be instrumental in building up the relationship between Air Force components. Tech. Sgt. Hopkins is a dynamic recruiter with an engaging persona. As well as being a prior service Marine, she has a unique perspective on some of the differences and benefits the ANG offers.”
One of the perks for the recruiters in the shared office is learning about each other’s Air Force component.
“I definitely plan to educate the active-duty recruiters on our culture and I hope to learn as much as I can about theirs,” Hopkins said. “Ultimately the recruiter wants the best possible option for their applicant. Some applicants need the chance to get away from their current situation which is when I refer them to an active-duty recruiter. Some applicants want to concentrate on furthering their education full time, while still being a part of the military. That’s where the ANG benefits them.”
Ultimately, Total Force recruiting is about finding the best place to serve in the Air Force, be it full time, part time, in or out of uniform.
“Being able to gain more knowledge on both sides will help us all when it comes to recruiting because if we are talking to someone who is interested in the other’s service, we can effectively make that first point of contact and initial sale before they are passed off to the appropriate recruiter,” Knight said. “It is a great opportunity to be able to have more show of face when it comes to Air Force Recruiting as a whole because we recruit individually unlike the other branches. Having that extra person really makes a difference.”
Another advantage for the combined office is being able to work events together as a Total Force team.
“It will help us greatly when it comes to events to have more than one recruiter there. The other branches go with a least two or three people and it just makes them stand out more,” Knight said. “Having someone who has more knowledge on the Guard will help us recruit better and assist those who want to stay local. It would be beneficial for all involved because people pretty much know if they want to go active or want to stay local and having a Guard recruiter there will help us as an Air Force recruit more effectively.”
For Padilla, he believes his state has embraced Total Force recruiting and can see how it will pay dividends.
“I truly believe the Georgia Air National Guard as a whole is leading in many ways. We have embraced the Total Force recruiting model and the future looks promising,” Padilla said. “Our Augusta recruiters for both the active-duty Air Force and Air National Guard are motivated and ready to work together as a team, and they are focused on achieving our Total Force objective. Our plan is to do the same in the Columbus, Georgia, market. We are currently in the process of conducting an initial site visit and meeting with the Total Force recruiters that will take lead of our potential second co-located office in Georgia.”