Texas recruiter helping people to change their lives
Story by: Capt. Martha Nigrelle
Posted: April 20, 2016
AUSTIN, Texas – Master Sgt. Andrew Marmolejo has been a recruiter for the Texas Army National Guard for ten years; it’s a mission he believes in.
“It’s all about being able to help people,” said Marmolejo, “taking a 17-year-old kid, seeing him transition and being able to help him change his life.”
Marmolejo is the noncommissioned officer in charge of Texas Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion’s Recruiting Team 13 or Team Wolfpack.
The Wolfpack’s territory runs through Austin and into surrounding counties. From this area Marmolejo’s team is expected to recruit 96 soldiers in 2016. With 75 enlistments already processed Marmolejo expects to reach their goal by May. Most would be ready to rest, but Marmolejo says they will stay busy.
“We will continue to recruit and we will help with retention and transition,” he said.
The Recruiting and Retention Battalion mission is three-fold, said Lt. Col. August Murray, Recruiting and Retention Battalion commander, recruit the right people for the job, retain the best people for the job and to prevent losses.
“What we do is of critical importance to our organization and our state,” said Murray. “It is vital that our communities and our units have all the soldiers they need when called upon to accomplish a mission.”
To better prepare recruits for their transition into the military and help promote success, the National Guard developed the Recruitment Sustainment Program, a program designed to introduce new service members to the military environment, and to ease their adjustment to basic training.
From the time they join the National Guard, recruits begin training monthly with their recruiters and other new enlistees to practice basic military skills that will help them succeed at basic training and advanced individual training. Recruiters continue to mentor their recruits through this training and even bring them to their first drill with their Guard unit.
The extra time recruiters spend with RSP recruits, not only prepares them for basic training, but helps them to excel, said Marmolejo.
“This year we’ve had six Distinguished Honor Graduates,” he said.
Recruiting men and women to join the military can be difficult in some places, but historically, Texas has met and exceeded their recruiting goals, said Murray.
Demographics may play a part in this being that Texas is home to five of the 10 fastest growing cities, but Murray thinks it has more to do with the spirit of Texas.
“Texans are patriotic,” said Murray. “They are proud to serve Texas and the nation in the National Guard. We enjoy a lot of community and state support.”
Texas pride may help Marmolejo when recruiting, but his dedication to mentoring his team and his recruits is what sets him apart.
In 2009, Marmolejo recruited Diana Lopez, enlisting her into the Texas Army National Guard.
“I was skeptical at first, but he was very honest about what the National Guard was about,” said Lopez. “He encouraged me; the National Guard was so good for him.”
When Marmolejo found out Lopez wanted to obtain a master’s degree and become an officer, he helped her enroll in the Reserve Officer Training Corps program.
To offset the cost of her education Marmolejo helped Lopez apply for state tuition assistance, a unique benefit for Texas Guardsmen.
“He set up everything and guided me through the process,” said Lopez. “I just filled in the blanks.”
Marmolejo stayed in touch with Lopez, always available to provide military guidance as she navigated her way through her career in the National Guard.
When Lopez had to withdraw from the ROTC program due to a family issue, it was Marmolejo who reminded her of her goal to become an officer and helped her apply for Officer Candidate School.
“He came to my commissioning at the Capitol,” said Lopez. “He puts a lot of focus on leadership; he takes it very seriously.”
An important part of that leadership is teamwork.
“Either we are going to be great as a team, or we are going to be horrible, but we are a team,” said Marmolejo. “Team mentality – once accepted, it drives big numbers, because everyone wants to be a part of it.”
Marmolejo credits his team for their dedication to the job, recounting how many times a member of his team has called late at night, with a question.
“They are very hardworking,” said Marmolejo “And they are truly a team. You would think they were a family as close as they are to each other.”
Whether it’s working with the recruiters on his team or mentoring new recruits, working to build and sustain quality service members for the Texas Army National Guard is a job he is committed to for the organization he loves.
“To me, joining the military should be a first resort,” said Marmolejo. “It’s a great opportunity.”