Active duty Future Soldiers for the first time in February made a short drive to raise their right hands and review paperwork with their families at the local recruiting center, instead of making the lengthy return trip to the Military Enlistment Processing Station (MEPS). The Radcliff, Ky., Recruiting Company was the first to implement hometown shipping for active Army recruits, and joins the 6th Recruiting Brigade, which has been hometown shipping Reserve recruits for about a year now. "The Hometown Shipping Program streamlines processing and further facilitates the Pinnacle Program's focus on freeing Soldiers to prospect," said Maj. Byron M. Trexler, Radcliff Recruiting Company commander. Hometown shipping is being implemented to make the enlistment process more efficient, save recruiters' time, reduce transportation expenses and, most importantly, provide a better experience to recruits and their families, according to Sgt. Maj. Allen Simmons, USAREC G5 sergeant major. Army enlistment is a two-step process. Part one is the actual enlistment: taking the physical, testing, choosing a job, processing paperwork and swearing in, which all take place at the MEPS. Part two is returning to the MEPS to update and verify records, swear in again and depart for training. With hometown shipping, there is no second trip to the MEPS, according to Erick Hoversholm, G5 analyst. The records update and swear-in will take place at the recruiting center or another location the recruit may choose in his/her hometown. "It's hard to estimate the dollars saved, especially the man-hours invested," said Simmons, who recalled his recruiting days in Montana where some recruiters had to make a five-hour drive to the MEPS - each way. However, when it makes more sense, such as when the recruit lives in the city where the MEPS is located, the command will still use the MEPS facilities. "We're hoping this better ties the recruiting center in the community," said Hoversholm. Though the first Radcliff enlistments have taken place at the recruiting center, he said the goal is for hometown enlistments to take place in other community locations and involve local community leaders and members whenever possible. Swear-ins involving local leaders, celebrities or dignitaries, or those that occur in community locations are a great way to gain media exposure, he added. "This also allows the families to be more involved in the enlistment process than they can at the MEPS. With hometown shipping - wherever it takes place - the family can be right there for the final briefing, review of the contract and swear-in," Simmons said. He added that the parents and/or spouses are invited to see the paperwork, which in many cases can help alleviate their concerns. Sergeant 1st Class Jimmy Franqui, Enlistment Eligibility and Processing Division NCO, said the Future Soldiers and families he spoke with at the first shipping were more comfortable at the center with their families than at the MEPS. They also enjoyed the extra time they had to spend with their families. "Unlike the larger group processing at the MEPS, the hometown shipping process was simply an extension of the enlistment process," said Master Sgt. Glenn Dawkins, 3d Brigade operations sergeant major. "The one-on-one with the Army guidance counselor provided continuity to the red carpet treatment. This process was lean and integrated seamlessly into our business practices." The Future Soldiers were also excited they did not have to go through the "underwear Olympics" again at the MEPS, Franqui said. Though the station has run into some minor challenges, none have stopped anyone from shipping. A timeline for further implementation of hometown shipping has not yet been set, according to Simmons. The Radcliff Company is still refining the process. In addition, Hoversholm said the command is working with MEPCOM and the other services to explore options that would save additional resources across the Department of Defense, not just the Army.

Page last updated Wed March 10th, 2010 at 13:26