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Testimonial Recruitment Units (TRU’s) – Special Military Recruiting Teams

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Marvin Pichla
September 12, 2017

Recruiting for military service has followed a similar style and function for many years. Each branch of service has its own staff of recruiters, promotional campaign and messaging themes. The goal of course is to convince qualified women and men their branch of the military is the best and offers the most appropriate professional development options. The friendly competition which exists between branches is historic and appropriately intentioned. However, the competition has not seemed to generate a sense of “newness” as it applies to the recruitment function. Hence, the challenge to be addressed in this article is: Can we apply just a little “dash” of innovation to improve 21st century military recruitment and create an “Always A Better Way!” opportunity?

First, if one consults Wikipedia and asks for information on military recruitment methods, the following description is provided:

Military recruitment is recruitment for military positions, that is, the act of requesting people, usually male adults, to join a military voluntarily. Recruitment can be conducted over the telephone with organized lists, through email campaigns and from face to face prospecting. While telephone prospecting is the most efficient, face to face prospecting is the most effective. Military recruiters often set up booths at amusement parks, sports stadiums and other attractions. In recent years social media has been more commonly used.

As demonstrated in the description, military recruitment has not changed a great deal over the years. This means that despite the options for promotion and advertising that have evolved through social media outlets, recruitment is still centered exclusively in the hands of a single individual.

Enlisting in the military is a serious, in-depth, life changing commitment. Securing all the necessary information on basic and advanced training options, the financial rewards for career development and benefits for yourself and your family, while balancing challenging military service responsibilities, is a tremendous task for young adults. Likewise, the responsibilities placed on the recruiter to effectively and completely explain these commitment components is an intense enlistment obligation all transmilitaryits own. Therefore, to diversity the recruitment process and reduce the information exchange responsibilities from a single recruiter, it may be strategic to consider a team approach.

Think about the possibility of organizing special military recruitment teams known as: Testimonial Recruitment Units or TRU’s. The TRU’s would be made up of selected soldiers who have enlisted in military service and have completed basic training within the last year. Each Testimonial Recruitment Unit would have as its main mission to share their personal success stories (i.e. testimonials) of enlistment component completion with possible recruits. This would require a special one-year commitment to serve on a TRU team. The separate branches of military service would need to first consider the time and personnel value of assigning soldiers to a TRU. However, if the outcomes were an increase in quality recruits with an expanded array of knowledge and skills, the return on investment may be well taken.

Second, there is high value in young adults talking about experience specifics with other young adults. Myths, exaggerations and misrepresentation of the actions and responsibilities of military commitment could be directly dissolved. TRU responses to simple, necessary questions from interested young adults would be modern-day and real-life. Consider the progressive impact of a TRU addressing an assembly of high school students. “Setting the record straight” for all in attendance regarding the actualities of boot camp and career impacting rewards of enlisting in one of a variety of military service opportunities, would surely result in a more exacting portrayal of options/opportunities.

Finally, today more than ever before the public and private sectors have had to upgrade their efforts to try and recruit the right people. The military service sector is no exception. Injecting a small innovation like the creation of TRU’s and thereby enhancing the military service recruitment initiative, simply seems to be a timely option. Remember the old saying “You only get one chance to make a good first impression”? Picture a TRU team marching into a recruitment event in their dress uniforms and describing the quality results of strong commitment and responsibility for a specific cause. And consider if a group of business people were also in the audience. Would they have an even better understanding of the benefit of employing someone with leadership and teamwork skills and how both are critical to turning out a good “product”.

Continuous improvement is an action that is necessary in all organizations. The military service branches have made modernization and development a priority in many operational areas, but enhancing the personnel recruitment responsibility through the introduction of TRU’s is an unique improvement issue. This does not alter the function of a recruiter, nor erase any of the traditions embedded in enlisting in military service. Rather it simply offers a recruitment enhancement tool that diversifies the process and enables successful new soldiers to quickly share the impacts of their responsibility-building experience.


Author: Marvin N. Pichla, Ph.D., is the owner and creative adviser of Inspiring Innovations, Inc. Sharing his unique entrepreneurship and innovation in public service experience, Marv consults with public and private business, education and community organizations to develop new and different problem-solving methods through real-life, example-based learning. Email: [email protected], @TRIPLEIIITIME 

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The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

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