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NEWS | March 28, 2024

Army Guard Recognizes Top Recruiting, Retention Soldiers

By Staff Sgt. Daisy Broker, National Guard Bureau

HOUSTON – More than 40 Soldiers in pristine World War II-style Army green dress uniforms lined the wall of a hotel ballroom as Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen, director of the Army National Guard, recognized their recruiting and retention successes during the 2024 Director’s Strength Maintenance Awards Conference March 14.

Seven Army National Guard recruiters were called to the stage as candidates for Recruiting and Retention Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.

“Sgt. 1st Class Robert Williams,” Jensen announced.

Williams moved to the front of the stage with a smile while accepting the director’s recognition and the official title of top Recruiting and Retention Noncommissioned Officer.

“Receiving an award like this means a lot,” said Williams, with the Washington Army National Guard. “It means that everyone else knows I am working as hard as I am. All the hard work and time away from my family paid off, so I can continue to do a good job supporting them.”

In today’s climate of Army National Guard end-strength challenges, recruiting and retention Soldiers are working tirelessly to meet or surpass mission requirements of recruiting and retention.

Williams wasn’t the only Soldier singled out during the event. Staff Sgt. Andrea Rayburn, a recruiting and retention noncommissioned officer with the Louisiana Army National Guard, was named the Army Guard’s top Production Recruiting and Retention NCO for fiscal year 2023.

“Staff Sgt. Andrea Rayburn, a mother of three, achieved an impressive 46 enlistments,” Jensen said. “That is the highest number by a single recruiting and retention NCO last fiscal year.”

The Soldiers honored at the evening event met and exceeded annual mission requirements and standards.

Rayburn joked about “blood, sweat and tears” and said her job is “a lot of hard work and dedication. Just putting in the work, putting in the hours, and taking care of Soldiers, that’s what it’s all about.”

In the 2023 fiscal year, 3,515 Army National Guard recruiters enlisted 29,451 recruits, an average of over eight per recruiter.

When asked about work-life balance, Rayburn, with 7- 11- and 17-year-old children, said: “I am there for every softball game and every wrestling match. I prioritize and try to spread myself as far as possible to care for everybody.”

The four-day Directors Strength Maintenance Awards Conference allowed recruiting and retention professionals to problem-solve, share best practices and recognize the top Army Guard recruiter, production recruiter, and recruiting and retention noncommissioned officer in charge.

Hawaii National Guard Master Sgt. Earl Ventura was named the top Army National Guard recruiting and retention noncommissioned officer in charge.

“The conference is a great networking experience because you meet people from all over the nation,” Ventura said. “You get to talk about what’s working and what’s not.”

In addition to networking, sharing tips and getting to meet the best National Guard recruiters in the nation, several recruiters said the conference provided the opportunity to tackle challenges together.

“As recruiting and retention professionals, you hold a special trust with the American people and the Soldiers of the Army National Guard; you hold the keys to opportunities that many members of your local communities and those currently in our ranks look for,” Jensen said. “Your efforts fill the ranks of our organization, inspiring confidence in your state leaders to accomplish our state and federal missions.”



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