(RICHMOND, VA) -- It is said that strength lies in numbers and the strength of a battalion is consequently made greater when members of the surrounding community contribute to the success of their local recruiters by working together toward a common goal.

To help build stronger ties with its neighbors, the Beckley Recruiting Battalion recently reenergized its local grassroots program. A new grassroots advisory board was formed that will examine ways to engage local centers of influence (COIs), with the goal of assisting local recruiting company leaders in enhancing productive recruiting efforts. This will be promoted by nurturing a new level of cooperative interactions between the local Soldiers and the community leaders.

Community relations at the grassroots-level, an Army recruiting-wide initiative, first tested at the Dallas Battalion, has shown various levels of success throughout recruiting command for a number of years now. While previous efforts to sustain an advisory board here produced mixed results, the new board's leadership is determined to bring about a more lasting continuity and productivity.

"We are extending a partnership with community leaders throughout Virginia by promoting Army Values to the community through engagements and outreach programs," said Lt. Col. Christopher D. Wood, commander, Beckley Recruiting Battalion. "We appreciate the opportunity the COIs have given us to encourage, tutor and assist our youth to stay in school and to be successful."

Wood explained the board's ongoing focus will be to address how recruiters and COIs will work toward strengthening their community ties and how local business, civic and education leaders are the key in helping us to ensure that our nation has enough qualified men and women to lead it into the future.

The new advisory board is currently in the infancy stages of staffing and will nominate a local community member to be chairman of the board at their second meeting next month. The advisory board will continue to meet on a quarterly basis to discuss Army programs, initiatives and opportunities.

"I greatly enjoyed the presentation and the gathering of like minds," said Paul E. Galanti, an American prisoner of war during the Vietnam War and the 2nd commissioner of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. "Having been in the aftermath of the Vietnam War and with the end of the draft, I know how hard it is to recruit -- even with the terrific opportunities that are available to our youth today."

Since the first grassroots advisory meeting in April, 19 COIs have stepped up to the challenges that were addressed by requesting recruiter attendance at community events and coordinating public service announcements on local radio stations that will target prospects for both the Active Army and Army Reserve missions.