ARLINGTON, Va. - Army Lt. Gen. Timothy Kadavy, the director of the Army National Guard, recognized the Army Guard's top recruiters in a ceremony and awards banquet Jan. 30 at the Bolger Center, Potomac, Maryland.

Kadavy started the ceremony thanking the more than 200 recruiters and their families. "We are a people organization. Without Soldiers, the Army National Guard cannot operate. Without you, we do not have the quality Soldiers we need to serve our states and our country. Your efforts provide the lifeblood of the Army National Guard.

During the ceremony, Sgt. 1st Class Todd Crawford, a recruiter with the Wyoming Army National Guard, was named the Army Guard's Recruiter of the Year.

"I wouldn't be able to do what I do without all the support of Wyoming [Army Guard] recruiting personnel, my family, my parents, and my wife," said Crawford. after receiving the award.

The first step to earning the title Army Guard Recruiter of the Year is to be selected as a top performer at the state level. From there, selectees appear before a board at the regional level, with each region containing about seven states. Finally, those who win the regional level compete against each other.

During a two-day competition, NCO's were evaluated on leadership, recruiting, knowledge, education, uniform and appearance by a board of sergeants major. Crawford was judged to be the best.

Crawford stressed that the award represents more than just him alone.

"It's a huge honor to represent my region and I am going to give this award back to the team, my family and the Soldiers," he said.

In the end, it's all about teamwork, Crawford said.

"The thing about teamwork is everyone has a role," he said. "It's like the Army is a big machine with all the parts turning to get results - take one part out and the machine doesn't work."

When it comes to recruiting, Crawford said he focuses on the deeper goals of a potential Soldier and looks to find ways the Army Guard can help.

"I love being a recruiter," he said. "The biggest thing for me is to be able to help people achieve their dreams and goals. It's not just about getting people through the process, it's about meeting people and finding out what drives them. What are their motivators?"

For many, that motivator is simply to help their community and nation, said Crawford, adding that fits well with the Army Guard's history.

"It goes all the way back to 1636 when we were first colonizing America," he said. "We didn't have the resources available at the time to dedicate to a full-time Army, so we relied on farmers and bakers and blacksmiths to provide defense for the communities."

That Citizen-Soldier model carries through to today.

"The thing about the National Guard is we still carry on that rich tradition and history," Crawford said. "When disaster strikes, we are there to help."

Crawford said he personally gets great satisfaction during an emergency response when he hears, comments like "that's our neighbor that's helping us."

"It really drives home that we are the hometown team," he said.

During the awards ceremony, Kadavy also recognized Army Staff Sgt. Lori Smith, a recruiter with the Oklahoma Army National Guard, as the Army Guard recruiter with the greatest number of enlistments over the past year.

"In today's recruiting environment it's monumental to get 50 enlistments, well above the nation's average," said Kadavy.

For Smith, hitting those recruiting numbers was easy.

"The Army National Guard is great," she said. "I just get to tell people about it."

Kadavy ended the night reminding the attendees of how important they are to the readiness of the Army Guard, "To the recruiters and NCOIC's we are honoring tonight, and to the Recruiting and Retention commanders, thank you for keeping our states ready! Thank you for keeping the entire force strong!