106th Rescue Wing Recruiting and Retention wins regional award

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Monica Dalberg
  • 106th Rescue Wing

Guard Recruiting and Retention office recently enlisted their skills and
attained their annual recruiting goal of 100 percent, beating out 8 other
states in the Northeast, winning the regional Patriot Team Award for Fiscal
Year 2015.

Master Sergeant Matthew Repp, manager and supervisor of the Recruiting and
Retention Office, attributes the success of his staff to streamlining
aspects of enlistment and mutual respect amongst members within his office.
Although the team is manned at 75 percent, it was the second year in a row
they managed to achieve their recruiting objective of 100 percent.

"We do everything, soup to nuts in our office," said Repp, of the approach
they use in making transitions into the Air National Guard smooth for new
recruits. Traditionally recruiting offices have sworn in newcomers and
escorted them to various offices to handle administrative details. "We took
it upon ourselves to better educate ourselves on the processes," he said.
"It's all on us to make it a quick and smooth change. We don't have to wait
on other offices to complete their roles, as they have other duties, too." 

The recruiting office accomplishes security clearances on the newest
members, financial packages to ensure they receive appropriate allowances,
and medical clearances.  Oftentimes a medical clearance can involve trips to
New York City and New Jersey for completion. The arduous steps involved in
getting a new recruit in the door and sworn in to completing Basic Military
Training requires many man hours and can be stressful for recruiters and
their families.

"Sometimes the day starts at 3 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m.," said Master
Sergeant Laurie Perno, recruiting and retention manager. "When you get home
you're exhausted, but you still have a family to take care of and you're
still 'Mom,'" she said. "Numerous career and recruiting events take place on
holidays and weekends," said Perno. She also noted in many instances
recruits are students or have full-time jobs of their own. "When they have
time to take steps they need to make a phone call or visit, it needs to be
in their free time. Their free time is often our downtime. It's 24/7," Perno
said, of recruiting.

In addition to recruiting, Perno also handles the retention of members.
"She's grabbing the bull by the horns and working hard to develop a program
to retain our qualified airman in the Guard," Repp said about Perno. "She's
ensuring our airman are receiving all their educational benefits and seeing
to it they meet their career goals."

As goals are set for recruiting offices, competition for individuals to meet
those targets can be demanding and even cause resentment within an office.
MSgt Repp credits his team's abilities to identify strengths in one another
and use those talents as an advantage for the whole team. 

TSgt Katie White is recognized within the office as a high speed go-getter.
In conjunction with her regular duties as a recruiter, her toughness and
tenacity made her a good fit to work with new recruits, according to Repp
and Perno.  The newest members of the Air National Guard and the wing become
part of Student Flight, led by White. Although some of the students may be
familiar with the Air Force, they often have no prior knowledge of military
life. Students learn about Air Force culture, build camaraderie amongst one
another and become familiar with wing operations, prior to leaving for Basic
Military Training. "She will hold the students to a certain standard that
doesn't relent, and they need those stepping stones when they go to boot
camp," stated Repp. White's efforts have resulted in a 95% rate in basic
training completion for recruits.

SSgt Christopher Gee is primarily a Battlefield Airman recruiter and,
according to Repp, has found his niche in marketing and has considerable
input on how to allocate recruiting and advertising funds. In July he
established the largest Battlefield Airman-focused recruiting event in New
York Air National Guard history at the Ironman Triathlon held in Lake
Placid, N.Y. The triathlon attracted some 30,000 attendees, many suited to
the mental and physical rigors required of Special Operations. Gee ensured
maximized spending of the allowed advertising budget in the year at 100
percent, unmatched by any other recruiting office in New York.
Staff Sergeant Joseph Cacoperdo is the newest addition to the Recruiting and
Retention office and is diligently defining his role as a junior enlisted
recruiter, said Repp. "He does a lot of volunteer work and is heavily
involved with his community. He projects a good image of the Air National
Guard and the 106th Rescue Wing with his volunteerism and that benefits the
Guard as a whole."

"With this recruiting team everyone brings a different dynamic to the
office. We mesh well together," said Perno.

"They all embrace their roles, move forward, and master them. It works well
for us," added Repp of his team.

The 106th Rescue Wing Recruiting and Retention office is now vying for the
national-level Patriot Team Award and the winner will be announced in April

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