Eustace Families Association

Eustace Families Post
November 2010

Lawrence Eustice helps lead the way in military recruitment:

MANKATO, MINN. - More than eight years into fighting two wars, the U.S. military finds itself in an odd but enviable position: All four military branches and all six Reserve components reached their recruiting targets, both in quality and quantity, for the first time in the history of the all-volunteer force.

Eschewing the cold call and hard sell for what it calls the "soft lead," the military is employing the latest in marketing techniques to secure the newest generation of recruits, who are plucked from an increasingly select pool of applicants. In a turnaround from as little as five years ago, United States Armed Forces enlistment requirements have never been higher.

Good kids without job prospects
"There are an awful lot of good kids out there who are coming out of high school with no job prospects or are having trouble affording college or donít see college as the route for them. Thatís the prime recruiting market," said William Strickland, a retired Air Force colonel who commanded recruiting in the western United States. Strickland was part of a committee for the National Research Council that studied military recruitment and marketing in 2002.

Mankato leads the way:
For a glimpse at prime recruiting territory for this new military, take a look at the southern Minnesota community of Mankato. In the past two years, the Mankato area has had 143 recruits sign on the dotted line to join the various branches of the military, with the Minnesota National Guard by far the leader. Last year, the Guard boasted a 60 percent share of the military recruitment market.In Mankato, the recruiting effort has included things such as trucking in climbing walls at high schools after proms to sponsoring tournaments when the latest version of the combat video game "Call of Duty" comes out. Knocking down conventional wisdom, it is also in places such as Mankato where potential recruits are more likely to meet the increasingly demanding standards the military puts on its enlistees.

"Itís been a lot of long hours to learn what the area is like and what the area needed, plus what the units needed," said Staff Sgt. Lawrence Eustice, one of three Guard recruiters stationed in Mankato.

No commission
Guard recruiters are all volunteers and receive no commission or extra benefits for the number of recruits they sign.

"They get paid the same whether the applicant says yes or no," said Major Jess Ulrick, commander of the southern Minnesota National Guard recruiting team.

Recruiters such as Eustice, who grew up in nearby Janesville, Minnesota say a sense of community and a desire to serve are motivating the high number of military recruits in the Mankato area. Detractors say a stifling economy and few choices are the motivation, reflecting national recruitment trends.

The Mankato area lends itself well to the pattern. Census figures show that 25 percent of individuals live at or below the poverty level and that 28 percent of the population 16 years old and above are not in the labor force. The presence of Minnesota State University, Mankato, may skew some of the figures, but the largest percentage (19 percent) of the cityís population is between a very prime 20 to 24 years old.

Rural and semi-rural communities have always been outstanding recruiting markets, experts say, because kids want to get out of town. Blue-collar and middle-class areas are heavily represented in the all-volunteer force because, on average, potential recruits from poorer communities may have lower test scores, or have difficulty meeting the physical requirements. Recruits from higher-income areas are likely to go through Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) in college or enter the service academies.

Star Tribune; Front Page Story, Minneapolis, Minnesota June 28, 2010.

Lawrence Eustice Photos

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