FORT KNOX, KY. -- (Sept. 12, 2014) After a week of grueling back-to-back exercises, seven recruiters proved they are experts at their job by becoming the first Soldiers in Army Recruiting Command to earn the master recruiter badge.

Of the 1300 nominations, 33 recruiters were selected to move onto the competition phase at Fort Knox, Ky., Sept. 8-11. More than 80 percent of the candidates were eliminated from the competition throughout the week. The seven recruiters selected to receive the highly-competitive badge are:

- 1st Sgt Brian K. Hucik, 1st Recruiting Brigade, Harrisburg Battalion;
- Master Sgt. Donald J. Gallagher, 3rd Recruiting Brigade, Indianapolis Battalion;
- 1st Sgt. Jan Vermeulen, 5th Recruiting Brigade, Oklahoma City Battalion;
- Sgt. 1st Class Joshua D. Morrison, 5th Recruiting Brigade, Dallas Battalion;
- Master Sgt. John H. Bishop, 6th Recruiting Brigade, Portland Battalion;
- Staff Sgt. Aaron J. Mixon, 6th Recruiting Brigade, Sacramento Battalion; and
- Staff Sgt. Yu S. Rhee, 6th Recruiting Brigade, Los Angeles Battalion

The competition consisted of 10 practical examinations and exercises designed to test how well recruiters know and perform their jobs:

1. An open-book written eligibility examination consisting of 10 scenario-based questions
2. Development of a recruiting operations plan
3. Preparation of a detailed area canvassing plan
4. Conducting telephone prospecting
5. Conducting an Army interview
6. Creating an enlistment packet
7. Making a temporary reservation
8. Conducting Future Soldier initial orientation
9. Conducting Future Soldier physical readiness training
10. Conducting an oral presentation

Recruiters had to achieve the minimum score, ranging from 80 to 100, after each exam, in order to remain in the competition.

Created to stand up to the expert infantry badge and the expert field medical badge, Victoria Sorensen, G3 division chief of the programs division for U.S. Army Recruiting Command, said the competition for the master badge was designed to be challenging.

"Being able to earn this badge proves they are a master at their skill as a recruiting profession, and that they understand all the aspects of recruiting," Sorensen said. "Recruiters who want to compete have to know and understand their profession, they have to understand all the steps it takes to put somebody in the Army. The competition is not just a bunch of questions, it's actual hands on practical exercises of all the different stages of the recruiting process a Soldier must execute in order to put someone in the Army."

"In my 10 years with USAREC, this is the most challenging event I've attended," said Hucik. "I want to challenge all other recruiters to step up, even if you have a gold badge, or a recruiter ring, or Morrell Award, this tops it all. I'm very relieved that it's over, but very proud that I get to come out and represent my whole entire brigade today [at the ceremony]".

Sorensen said anyone interested in participating in future competitions needs to study to make sure they know the regulations associated with their profession. They need to thoroughly understand all the phases of processing an applicant.