As service branches struggle to meet enlistment goals, the Marine Corps Recruiting Sub-Station in St. Joseph is rising to the challenge.
Covering Northwest Missouri and Kansas, recruiters meet with individuals to find those who best fit the criteria to be a Marine. Sgt. Jacob Smith, a recruiter based in St. Joseph, said he got involved to make sure that other young people are aware of the opportunities the Marines can provide them.
“My personal goal is to provide the same opportunities that I had whenever I was in their shoes when I was 17, 18 years old, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with life, trying to accomplish some goals that I had for myself,” Smith said. “I want to be able to provide those same type of opportunities to these individuals so that they can have the same opportunities that I had.”
Smith, who started in the infantry, said after becoming a sergeant or a noncommissioned officer typically Marines choose a special duty assignment to advance their career, such as recruiting or drill instruction. He said his day-to-day responsibilities have him driving around the region to meet with prospective recruits.
“I kind of screen them out making sure that they’re both mentally and physically qualified to become Marines, and at that point we kind of set up in-person interviews to sit down and go over their goals or ambitions, things that they want to achieve,” Smith said. “We travel to them, they come to our office, we sit down to have an interview about their goals and we discuss those and I tell them what the Marine Corps can do to achieve those things.”
Smith said the problems the Marine Corps runs into most frequently are misinformation and people not knowing all they need to about the program.
“The information that is kind of accurate to people who might be interested in serving in the military might not be readily available to them,” Smith said. “So us getting out there and providing that information to those individuals who are kind of interested, that’s the biggest issue.”
When speaking with potential recruits, Smith tries to put himself in their shoes and share the ways that the Marine Corps can improve their lives.
“One of the benefits by joining the Marine Corps is having the educational opportunities that we do provide them, such as the post-9-11 GI Bill, which is 100% paid tuition for college,” Smith said. “A stable income, a guaranteed paycheck every two weeks, that type of thing. Yes, you do have to spend a little bit of time away from home with training, all of your initial training. But the benefits on the back end of making that initial sacrifice, I always tell people that it’s a small sacrifice for a greater outcome.”
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