SEATTLE -- Recruiters with the Seattle Army Recruiting Battalion invited their community partners to skydive with the U.S. Army Golden Knights Tandem (Parachute) Team at Skydive Perris, Perris, California. The invitation gave community partners additional insight into the Army and what it has to offer to high school seniors, college students and adults.
The event was also to show appreciation to community partners who support recruiters in their efforts to share the Army story with potential future soldiers. A community partner is someone who can reasonably be expected to influence the decisions of a large number of prospects. Community partners typically include teachers, community and civic leaders, school administrators and athletic coaches.
"Having a positive working relationship with educators is key to your [Recruiter's] success in a high school," Sergeant 1st Class Eddie Quimby, a recruiter with Spokane Army Recruiting Company, explained. "The more information exchanged between the recruiters and educators only solidifies a student's willingness to approach a recruiter to talk about what future plans they may have."
On May 25, Brenda Goehring and Spencer Boyes jumped out of a moving airplane soaring 12,500 feet above ground at 120 miles per hour, with members of the Golden Knights.
The tandem jump was the first military-affiliated event Goehring has ever participated in. "Why not start at the top, right?" she asked.
Goehring was a classroom teacher for seven years before moving into school administration where she has been the assistant principal at Mt. Spokane High School, Spokane, Washington, for about 10 years. While she herself has not served in the military, her stepfather retired from the U.S. Air Force and her two nephews are active duty service members with the U.S. Marine Corps and Army.
She said she signed up because "the opportunity to participate with the 'best of the best' was an once-in-a-lifetime one I wasn't going to miss."
Boyes, a Social Studies teacher and football coach at Washington High School, Puyallup, Washington, echoed Goehring's sentient about the opportunity of a lifetime to skydive with the Golden Knights. The teacher of four years said he has always wanted to skydive and when the opportunity presented itself, he knew he had to grab it and accomplish one more thing on his "bucket list."
Even though neither Boyes nor his immediate family have served in the military, he said from interacting with soldiers who coach football, he could tell military service was an honorable calling and there is genuine camaraderie among service members.
Goehring said her prior knowledge of the Army was limited to an overview of the medical field opportunities and Army benefits but she emphasized that since she began working with Sergeant Quimby, she's become more informed about what the Army does and has to offer.
"Sergeant Quimby visits with students and has arranged for Army personnel and equipment to be present at our annual Block Party and to visit with families."
She said Quimby and his colleagues are also very involved at the school's sports events, and have provided seniors who have chosen to join the Army with Army sashes to wear at graduation.
Quimby, a soldier with 12 years' service, suggested educators and staff should inform themselves on regular Army and Army Reserve programs and what they offer students. "A lot of educators are unaware about the programs and how they can parallel a student's life plan so they're able to achieve their goals while serving in the Army part time or after they have served in the Army full time," he explained.
Having strong partnerships with the community reaps positive rewards for recruiters. Quimby said he appreciates the support he regularly gets from schools like Mt. Spokane.
"We have a great partnership with not only Mrs. Goehring but the entire Mt. Spokane staff," he said. "They truly support students exploring all options post high school and allow us to promote all the benefits of the regular Army and Army Reserve."
For Boyes and Goehring, the experience they have collaborating with recruiters has been enlightening because it has helped them debunk any assumptions they have about the military.
Boyes said since he began networking with Army recruiters and civilian staff, he has learned about "…the insane number of jobs in the military," adding that many of his students assumed service members were active duty and serving overseas, or active duty serving at home and there were no "regular jobs" in the military. Goehring said her curiosity was piqued after learning about the career and educational opportunities available to Army civilian staff.
Quimby said recruiters are more successful when they educate themselves on the school's programs and what that student body is interested in career-wise. He noted that in his experience, when recruiters understand these factors, their accessibility to students and their ability to help them parallel an Army program to suit their life goals, greatly improve.
Boyes and Goehring said they are just getting warmed up in their partnerships with the Army. Goehring said she plans to hold several events including a school assembly in the fall to invite soldiers, particularly female soldiers in career fields that are either in high demand or have special requirements, to speak to students. The message she wants to convey is that while college is an option, there are other ways to pursue a professional career and get great benefits.
Boyes said he'll keep encouraging his students to try everything, to trust in people who are there to help them, and to continue interacting with adults, including soldiers, in any career or profession.
He said he appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the Army himself and to pass what he has learned along to his students to help shape their lives.
While both educators said they enjoyed the jump, they admitted their A-ha moments came while connecting with the soldiers. "It was really cool to see how close the Army team was. Everyone was making sure they had each other's backs," Boyes observed. Goehring said she enjoyed interacting with the team and found, "While they come from diverse backgrounds and have their individual personalities, their steadfast commitment to their team and serving the United States came through clearly."
Community partners are an invaluable resource to recruiters and the recruiting effort. Events like the Golden Knights tandem jump increase community partners' knowledge and awareness of the opportunities and benefits available in the U.S. Army, make them more invested Army advocates in their communities, and strengthen their trust and confidence that all men and woman can benefit by choosing to serve in the Army.