Well worth the read I think...

On 10/7/98, at 7:45 PM, *@aol.com wrote:
Dear AL,
   Took several minutes to read everything on your site.  Very interesting are the only words that immediately came to mind.  I am currently a superintendent and felt obligated to write to you.  Please hear me out before turning me off when you heard the word "superintendent".  You obviously have a strong conviction for your cause...nothing wrong with that. Having not heard all the stories (you know, the three sides, yours-theirs-and the real unbiased incident) I feel you deserved a chance to prove yourself and your charges.  It appears that didn't happen and things went sour from that point...neither side willing to give in.  It appears, in your words, you were "screwed over".  I concur. I personally know your x flight chief and he is a good person but probably wasn't strong enough to "call the dogs off" so to speak. I didn't know your superintendent but had heard some things about him.  But, you hear all kinds of things about everybody; so I can't speak for or about him.  I would like to discuss a few things and hope you feel they are "middle of the road" enough that you post them on your site.  I say this because we need recruiters or we can't fill the needs or the Air Force to protect this great country of ours.  No recruiters--no recruits  So, please hear me out.

   First, you are right...not everyone can be a recruiter!  It does take that special person who is usually--Type A personality, arrogant, egotistical, cocky, self-centered, and very aggressive in nature.  Unfortunately for those trying to be recruiters, the school does not weed out those who don't have the "capacity" to be what I just described.  Also, those in the school usually have never failed in their life and refuse to fail in the school.  And quite frankly, if you can recite the script and do the right things you can graduate. Therefore, they become recruiters in the field and struggle.

     Secondly, Recruiting Service does not get the "cream of the crop" of the Air Force as you mentioned.  We'd like to think we do, but we don't.  The cream of the crop of their career fields are being "groomed" in that career field and a career path is laid out for them...promotions and positions.  I'm not saying we don't get good people because we do.  What I am saying is we get many (not all) good NCOs who come into recruiting for the wrong reasons; i.e., go close to home, wife wants to be close to her family or she/he is home sick, ops tempo too high with too many hours, etc.  I really can't give you one "right" reason for being a recruiter but have found after 15 years in recruiting that those I've mentioned are not necessarily the "right" reasons.  I know what you're thinking...the RTR team attracts recruiters by offering a "close to home" location.  That's because those are the ones who want to apply and quite frankly...we need recruiters.

   Thirdly, and most unfortunately, the Air Force assignment system does not allow an "escape" route for those NCOs who don't have the "capacity" and have PCSd to their duty location.  This sickens me the most. If they aren't going to be successful, we do not have an avenue to return them to their career fields without extensive documentation, training, or health reasons.  Unlike squadrons at a base, where commanders can reassign their people where they would be most beneficial; we are geographically separated units without the ability for this to happen.  I feel we could do better in this area but, again, we are at the mercy of the assignment system with its TOS requirements, etc.  Many good NCOs resort to otherwise "not so attractive" avenues to return to their career fields.  Mind you, some can do the job but simply refuse to!  That is failing to accept NCO responsibilities and I have no sympathy for them.  I find it difficult to deal with when a new recruiter arrives and after two months says they want to go back to their career fields.  Every new job is a challenge for the first six months or so.  But they quite before they get started.  And you know this job is 90% heart and 10% ability (if you have the capacity).  However, I personally have a few recruiters who are good NCOs and lack true "capacity" to be successful recruiters and I can tell you that I'm working very hard with my commander to return them in "good condition" to their career fields.  As a matter of fact, we are doing some "out of the box" things which we have been successful at with two of them.  Some superintendents are afraid to "ask the question" as they need to make that next stripe...some of us truly care for our people.

    One of your writers indicates that "soured" recruiters go back to their career fields and pass on negative things about recruiting. He is exactly right.  That does happen because of my third reason I stated above.  This is becoming even more challenging to find recruiters to fill our needs.  Remember, we need recruiters or we go to a non-volunteer recruiting force (I'm sure you can image what that would be like) or we go without recruits (not going to happen).  So, I'm asking your readers whose recruiting careers weren't so great to offer advice to those thinking about it.  But, be honest...not biased.  Some may love it and stick around awhile (sounded like you were trying to extend before your incident).

    Well Al; in closing (sorry I rambled), hope you get the back money you are seeking.  It's not in my nature to wish anything bad on someone so I can't wish you luck in your quest for retaliation of your supervisors.  But I do hope you get vindicated in your mind and someday just...let it go.  Life goes on and so will you.  I hope to hear from you and would love to just chat with you sometime.  I know we have some common acquaintances as I was in your group for three years.  Just to let you know before I end this...some of us understand the uphill challenges we face in recruiting and in our quests to make it better, and we work on them. But, it takes a village!!

A Caring Superintendent
PS: I would appreciate it if you did not reveal my E-mail address

*********** REPLY SEPARATOR -- Airminder's comments ***********
     I recieved your email and greatly appreciate your interest in my plight and, even more so, your taking the time to write.  I apologize for the delay in writin' ya back...Time is sooo elusive and slips away far faster these days it seems as I approach retirement.  I intend to post your email to my web site and, as always, I don't post email addresses unless requested by the sender.  I do feel very strongly about the dreadful and unjust manner I was treated while assigned to AFRS, and am discovering more each day about how thoroughly I was "hosed".  For instance, did you know that if you're relieved "with cause" from AFRS that you can NOT apply for the applicable CCAF degree program?  (Information Management I believe is the program for recruiters...It's been almost a year ago since I checked.)  No other job in the Air Force to my knowledge has that effect on applying for the applicable degree program for one's career field.  That's just one instance.  I also recently discovered that the same day (28 Dec 95) that I faxed information to the Air Force IG explaining how I was denied leave to prepare for my long awaited PCS (over 5 months from the date I was relieved), my commander wrote a letter after getting a  telephone call from this IG, to deny my good conduct medal.  This letter is still in my personnel folder, obliterating over 2 1/2 years of accrued time toward this medal.  A very - how should I say - "Up close and personal" and extremely unprofessional telephone call was made by my commander to me at my home this same evening.  I wonder if he had any idea how easy it is to tape both sides of a telephone conversation?...hmmm.  Anyways...This adverse personnel action (denial of good conduct medal) in response to my making a protected disclosure to the IG is clearly in violation of the Federal Statute Whistle Blower Act.  I frankly couldn't care less at this point in my career about medals.  If I wanted only revenge, I could send the NFL Licensing folks the squadron emblem boldly emblazed with the copyrighted Vikings trademark that is on the many awards and certificates I earned while a recruiter, and also was routinely used on official and unofficial documentation.  This same copyrighted and trademarked emblem was to be used for formal invitations.  When I took the  invitation prototype to kinko's to be copied under my commander's direction, they adamantly refused to produce copies unless I produced a signed document from the Vikings stating that their emblem could be used in such manner.  Yes, I have a dated and signed statement from the kinko's manager stating this and a copy of the invitation.  I'm not out for revenge...I only want back what was so brazenly and wrongfully stolen from me -- All under the "caring and watchful eyes" of the Air Force IG and AFRS chain of command.  I can never regain everything that was stolen from me, much in the same way as a car that's been in a major accident can ever really be "like new" again.  The dents and damage will always remain under the facade of the repair.  I admit -- I am quite jaded by this whole affair, and feel it's too bad that our senior leadership has allowed this type of practice to continue unrestrained, and in some cases, encouraged.  I find it absolutely ludicrous that AFRS is "hurting for" recruiters when they had at least one -- a very good one if I may say without lettin' it go to my head -- and, as it appears by responses I've gotten, many more good ones that put their heart and soul into their jobs and who've felt the unjust wrath of the AFRS sword.

    I'm willing to discuss practically anything pertaining to AFRS, middle of the road or not.  This is the beginnings of how things get fixed -- through discussion and understanding.  Your first point is quite true. No one wants to fail, and even the struggling recruiters are still out there "shakin' hands" and spreadin' the word about the Air Force.  They don't want to fail. Even on the THIRD time standing in front of my commander in service dress for over 2 hours attempting to answer his questions, I had 2 folks processing at MEPS, one of which ended up being the ONLY person who could, and in fact DID, make the squadron's annual goal for FY 1995.  I never gave up.  I'd presume that most recruiters would've done the same.  Everyone wants to be a winner...Only those that give up truly fail.  It takes courage and determination to make a village!

    On your second point, I'll agree with most of what you say.  I agree that there are probably quite a few folks that join recruiting for the wrong reasons.  Being closer to home is probably one of the biggest "wrong reasons".  Family and friends one expects to be able to spend more time with can be a significant detraction from the recruiting effort.  For instance, when mom says "Come over this weekend...I'm making your favorite meal on Saturday for lunch, and your dad would like you to stay and watch the game with him...The Packers are gonna win ya know!"  And because you've got to get that quota, you have to respond "I can't until after 8pm because I've got lotsa recruiting to do."  I can see there might be even more, not less pressure by recruiting in your hometown.  I am glad I didn't get placed in my hometown.  As a side note...I wanted to be a recuiter so bad, I settled for a location that I orginally didn't pick.  I must disagree with your subpoint that AFRS doesn't necessarily get the cream of the crop.  These folks are hand picked!  For instance, few other Air Force jobs require a full length photo when making selections.  Furthermore, folks applying for recruiting duty must have impeccable records, especially when a "3" EPR is supposed to be considered "average".  Selecting only folks that have no more than 1-"4" in the past 5 years is cuttin' the cream pretty close to the top I think.  (EPR issue is another "bug-a-boo" of its own to be discussed on some other web site...hehheh)  It takes people to make a village!

    I agree with your third point, and that this point is the most important...Some folks weren't meant for recruiting, and there should be some way for a mutual agreement to take place to allow the "marriage made in hell" to be dissolved under amicable terms, without either AFRS or the person to suffer.  There should be a way for a mutual "parting of the ways".  It seems to me that you are one of the few superintendents that cares about and carefully weighs the needs of the mission AND the needs of the people...Not many seemed to give a rat's patootey about the people other than their numbers.  I hope your "out of the box" thinking brings better ways to do business than what I saw during my tenure as a recuiter.  The adage that "If you take care of the people, they will take care of the mission" needs to be read and adhered to make it work.  It takes an investment of caring and encouraging leadership, creative thinking, and the will of the people to keep a village alive!

   Thanks for sharing your ideas and your concern.  I hope that our efforts bring about positive changes in the way the important mission of recruiting is conducted.  I too care deeply about people.  Retaliation isn't my quest -- My quest is to regain that which was stolen from me, and to inform my brothers and sisters in arms of what can happen to you as an Air Force recruiter.  I am at peace with myself -- I didn't "lie, cheat, and steal", and I sleep very well at night.  I don't believe that those that were in my chain of command can honestly say the same.  I have forgiven, but I shall NEVER forget!  The "new car in the major accident" will never be quite the same -- It may shine after being repaired, but there'll always be the underlying damage that can never be repaired to make it "as good as new".  Maybe someday folks can be proud to say "I (am/was) an Air Force recruiter!" with a genuine smile and not have "war-stories" of their own to tell.

Best wishes to you and yours, and also to your mission for positive change in AFRS!
Take care and God bless!

Al Lamb (aka Airminder)
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