Home > Family > Proud Little Brother

Proud Little Brother

Below is a copy of a newspaper article about my older brother Robert. He is an Army recruiter in Tampa, FL. I am very proud of his accomplishments and want to share them with you.
Recruiters Keep Army Strong
Posted Jan 24, 2007 by The Tampa
By JULIE PACE The Tampa Tribune
TAMPA – Twenty-one photos line the wall of the Army recruiting office on Fowler Avenue. Each represents a future soldier. “This one is mine,” says Staff Sgt. Robert Jones, pointing to one of a young man who will enlist after graduation in May. Jones’ Tampa North recruiting office signed up 157 people for the Army last year, helping make the Central and West Florida recruiting battalion the most successful in the country.
The pressure remains on Florida recruiters after two high-profile decisions to increase troop levels. In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Bush touted his new Iraq plan, calling for 21,500 more troops to be deployed to Iraq. In addition, Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants to increase the active-duty Army by 65,000.
Exactly where some of those troops will come from hasn’t been determined, but local recruiters say they’re not worried about fulfilling their responsibilities. “We’ve got more than enough people who want to join,” says Sgt. 1st Class Stephenie Wilson, Jones’ recruiting partner.
From October 2004 to October 2005, 378 active-duty and 79 reserve recruits came out of Hillsborough County. Those numbers increased during the same period from 2005 to 2006, with 538 active-duty and 122 reserves.
Based on the number of recruits since October, local recruiters appear on track to at least meet the previous years’ figures, says Ron Horvath, spokesman for local Army recruiters.
The conflict in Iraq hasn’t hurt local recruiting efforts, recruiters say, but the ongoing violence raises inevitable questions.
Jones says he is honest and straightforward when potential recruits ask whether they will be sent to Iraq. He tells them he doesn’t have an answer. “Anyone who tells you you’re not going to Iraq is lying,” he says. “Anyone who tells you you’re definitely going is also lying.”
Jones, a 14-year Army veteran, spent a year in Iraq driving Bradley Fighting Vehicles before becoming a recruiter about a year ago. Recruiting is a coveted post, but Jones would give it up for a chance to be back in combat.
“When I hear my buddies say they’re going to Iraq, I want to be there, too,” he says.
Jones, 32, spends 80 percent of his day out of the office. The office, he says, is not the place to find good recruits.
“You can get 45 people walking in, and maybe one is qualified,” he says.
Much of Jones’ time is spent at Wharton High, the school he was assigned to when he started recruiting.
Most recruiters spend one day a week at their assigned school, talking to students during lunch periods. Jones shows up at Wharton far more often. He drops by to meet with guidance counselors, attends Wharton sporting events and is invited to speak during classes.
The number of graduating seniors joining the Army has more than doubled from two students to five since Jones started.
Jones made students more aware of the options the military offers, Wharton guidance counselor Cindy Rogers says. When it comes to selling the Army, there’s no script or standard recruiting pitch, Jones says. He doesn’t shy away from talking about the realities of joining during a war but doesn’t want Iraq to be the only thing recruits hear about.
During a visit to a criminal justice class at Wharton on Tuesday, Jones starts his presentation with a patriotic video showing soldiers receiving awards in their dress blues. Combat footage is benign, just tanks crossing the desert and soldiers running in formation.
Jones tells the students stories about the exotic places he has been with the Army. He talks about how the Army will help them pay for college.
Then Jones brings up the Sept. 11 attacks. That’s the reason we had to go to Iraq, he says, and that’s the reason the Army needs more good recruits.
“We’re going to try to the best of our ability to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” he says.
At the end of class, Jones plays a second video. It opens with a plane flying into the second World Trade Center tower. Soldiers pull suspects out of their homes, and bombs explode in the centers of cities. Both videos show real sides of the Army, Jones says.
“Iraq is a small piece,” he says.
When Jones isn’t at Wharton, he makes connections at community events and drops cards at local businesses. After spending the morning at Wharton, Jones heads to a job fair in Tampa. He quickly zeros in on Kyrie Neverson, a 23-year-old college graduate with a degree in engineering and no job.
What starts with a handshake becomes a 30-minute meeting. Jones talks about the Army’s officer training and the job opportunities that could open up for Neverson after his service.
Neverson listens patiently, nodding, sometimes smiling, but says little. As he walks away with Jones’ business card and a stack of brochures, he says he is overwhelmed. “I don’t really know what I’m going to do,” he says. Jones doesn’t hear that comment. He’s confident he has lined up a potential recruit. “He’ll call,” Jones says. “He’ll definitely call.”
Advertisements
Categories: Family
  1. Anonymous
    January 26, 2007 at 6:52 am

    Your brother seems to be a nice guy. Wonder if he returns phone messages?

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: