By U.S. ArmyJuly 11, 2019
We have all read stories where an Army recruiter helped an applicant lose weight to join the Army. But have you read the story where the recruiter purposely gained weight to help their applicants enlist in the Army?
Meet Staff Sgt. Ashley Shannon, an Army recruiter who went above and beyond to help her applicants enlist in the Army.
Two prospective applicants walked into the Madison Army Recruiting Station in Gallatin, Tenn., wanting to enlist; but after talking with Shannon, who explained she would need to tape and weigh them, the two women soon learned they did not meet the Army weight standards
The women started telling Shannon how hard it was to lose weight. The thought of trying to lose weight seemed insurmountable to them.
Shannon saw how discouraged the women were with the idea of losing weight and she wanted to do more than just say, 'Come back when you lose the weight.' She told the women she would stay in touch and told them not to lose hope.
She started thinking and knew she needed a plan….a plan not just to help those two women, but possibly future potential applicants. Her idea would be to purposefully gain weight, set up a fitness training program, and knowing that she too, would need to lose weight, work-out with the applicants. But, to put her plan into action, she would first need the support of her station commander, Sgt. First Class Robert Corbitt.
"Staff Sgt. Shannon approached me with her idea of gaining weight and working out with her applicants to lose weight," said Corbitt. "She put together a great program that not only benefitted her applicants, but the other recruiters' applicants would be able to participate as well."
Shannon said it was hard to gain the extra weight. She had to force herself to eat past her limit, and she started eating fatty and processed foods.
"I had to limit doing my lifts, workouts and training, which are my primary stress relievers, and consistently saw an influx of one-and-a-half to three pounds a week, then three and four pounds," she said. Adding that she would stay within the tape requirements, so she would not have to go on the weight program.
Shannon got in touch with the two applicants and asked if they would come back to the station to discuss her plan. When they saw her, they asked 'what happened?'
"If you work with me, and trust me, I can show you how you can enlist in the Army, and get physically fit," she told the women.
She went on to explain her fitness training program, and told the women that she wanted to relate to what they were feeling about being over-weight, so she came up with the idea to purposefully gain weight, and knowing that she too, would need to lose weight, work-out with them, so together they would motivate and support each other. "And, if you decide to enlist or not, I'll still be there to help you."
Using the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) and additional workouts to include strength conditioning, interval training, H.I.I.T., etc., Shannon scheduled work outs (on her own personal time) at the recruiting station, local gym, during Future Soldier drills, at parks, wherever they could. She initially called the program, F.A.T. 2 F.I.T. (Finally Actively Training 2 Focused Inspired and Trained).
Word soon got out about an Army recruiter conducting fitness training, and that it was open to anyone who wanted to better themselves, and joining the Army was not a prerequisite to participate. Recruiters and their applicants and Future Soldiers would participate as well.
Nashville Company Commander, Capt. Marcus Elledge said, "SSG Shannon is a hard working recruiter and takes time to ensure her applicants and potential applicants are doing PT. It is something she does on her own and has an impact on her personal success as a recruiter."
Shannon has enlisted eight Future Soldiers from her fitness program; and has several still training to meet weight requirements to enlist. One of her trainees, Second Lieutenant Camacho, attained her goal to lose 35 pounds to join the Army. She graduated top in her class and was selected to attend aviation school, to train as a pilot.
Shannon has lost the purposely added weight and again meets the Army weight standards. She added, "Doing this is not something that I would ever suggest to anyone."
She believes being a recruiter, puts her in a position to help those who want to better themselves, and achieve their goals.