This article by Charles E. Spirtos comes courtesy of the DoD News Service
When imagining a military recruiting station, and the service members who work as recruiters, some stereotypes abound. The belief that recruiters are focused solely on meeting a quota, or reporting high enlistment totals, has generated the idea of the pushy recruiter full of promises just to get your name on the contract. Recruiters know about this disparaging image and seek to change the way the military and public see them.
Sgt. Daniel Pearson, a Texas Army National Guard recruiter assigned to Region One—Fort Worth, says that fellow Soldiers often imagine recruiters to be paper pushers, confined to their offices, when this could not be further from the truth.
Hoping to dispel these stereotypes and offer a fuller perspective on the difficult—and necessary job that recruiters hold within the military, Pearson volunteered to be a participant in the Texas Military Department’s 2020 Best Warrior competition, an annual four-day challenge designed to test tactical and technical expertise through scored events across a wide range of skills.
Through his participation in Best Warrior, Pearson hopes to display that recruiters are professionals maintaining the same warrior ethos found across the Army.
From a young age, Pearson grew up learning what this warrior ethos was. The son of Major John R. Pearson, J33 current operations officer (CUOPS) for the Texas Army National Guard, he grew up wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“Joining the Army was something I knew I always wanted to do,” said Pearson. “Seeing the military from early on and what it does in the lives of people, really made me want to join.”
Pearson enlisted as soon as he turned seventeen, while still a junior in high school. This meant that he had to get permission from his parents first, a moment his father still remembers.
“I was 33 when I first enlisted in the Army, a few years later I joined the Texas Guard,” said Pearson’s father. “Signing that consent form for Daniel when he was seventeen made me as proud as I could possibly be.”
Both Pearsons agree that it is a deep privilege to be able to serve together, knowing that very few fathers and sons have had the honor of a similar shared experience like military service.
Pearson originally trained as an aviation technician. Upon returning home after deploying overseas, he decided to change his career path and graduated from the Army Infantry School.
Pearson credits the military with allowing him to develop as a Soldier and as an individual, saying that his experience in the Guard has molded him for life.
Finding the Guard to be extremely beneficial to his life, Pearson decided that one weekend a month, two weeks a year was not enough, and sought out opportunities to serve full-time as an Active Guard/Reserve (AGR) member.
“I love [the Guard] so much, and it’s amazing what the Army has done for me. How many twenty-two-year olds can say that they own their own home, they don’t have college debt, and they’re in a job they love?” said Daniel. “I searched for AGR positions and came across the position as a recruiter.”
Sharing his positive experience of being in the Army National Guard is what motivates Pearson as he seeks to help other young people like himself find their own path to service. He takes pride in matching his recruits to careers which not only allow them to effectively serve the Guard but allow them to develop as individuals as well.
He is fortunate to be assigned to his former school district said Pearson.
“It’s great to be able to recruit in my high school,” said Pearson. “I know all these teachers and counselors, and when I am talking to students about my experiences, I think it adds to my credibility since I’ve stood in their exact place.”
As his first class of recruits is returning from a year of training, Pearson looks forward to guiding them back into the Guard and their civilian lives. He expects this experience to be as rewarding as their enlistment.
“Walking [the Soldiers] into colleges, helping them apply to college and join the ROTC [Reserve Officer Training Corps], and even just watching them perform in their jobs—that feeling is awesome,” said Pearson.
Recruiting in the Guard is different from the active duty component because all Guard recruiters explicitly volunteer for the position, a difference that lets the Guard find recruiters who are passionate and dedicated to their career said Pearson.
According to him, recruiting requires a dedication to helping individuals develop themselves while also assessing which career in the Army will be the best fit for that person’s skills and experiences. Pearson takes his responsibility very seriously, admitting that parents entrust their children to the military when they arrive to a recruiting station.
Pearson’s dedication to his career and to serving the National Guard has not been lost on his supervisor Sgt. First Class Toby Alsip.
“I’ve had the pleasure of watching a young, high-school-student kid with a heart of a lion become the NCO that brings honor to the name tape sewn on his dad’s uniform,” said Alsip. “Sgt. Daniel Pearson could care less what the Army can offer him. Rather, he’s more concerned on what he can do for the Army. If I could clone him times a million, I would.”
Though this is Pearson’s first year as a recruiter, he already understands it is not simply about applications and paperwork. He knows his face is often the first one in the military that recruits see, and that it is his responsibility to represent the Guard honorably. Master Sgt. Dawn Robbins, the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of Pearson’s team, has taken notice of his efforts in making a great first impression.
“Sgt. Pearson sets the bar high for a rookie-Recruiting-and-Retention Non-Commissioned Officer,” said Robbins. “He believes in the Texas Army National Guard’s mission and the NCO Creed whole-heartedly. Sgt. Pearson is passionate and motivates his team and recruits to excel. I’m super proud to have him on Team Crusader!”
Speaking about Best Warrior, Pearson said that he volunteered because he has always been devoted to physical fitness and actively seeks out opportunities which will increase his overall wellness.
Additionally, he hopes that his participation in Best Warrior helps further dispel misconceptions about recruiters.
“Sure, I’m a recruiter, but I’m also an infantryman,” said Pearson. “I’m just as much of a warrior as anyone else.”
Speaking to Pearson’s physical prowess, CCM Michael E. Cornitius, the Texas Military Department Senior Enlisted Leader, was impressed by the recruiter’s efforts.
“The sheer talent displayed here is outstanding,” said Cornitius. “This event allows our Texas Soldiers and Airmen to test their strength, not only physically, but mentally.”
One of the most rewarding experiences of Best Warrior for Pearson was the mystery event held on the final day of the competition. After swimming over 300 meters in Lake Bastrop, the competitors then embarked on a 12-mile ruck march. What made this experience even more special to Pearson was that his father, John, joined to complete the ruck march by his side.
“Being able to run that ruck with my dad by my side was an unforgettable experience,” said Pearson.
“The feeling was totally surreal,” said John. “Completing that with Daniel was such a privilege, and I am incredibly proud of him.
When asked about his future plans, Pearson says that he desires to stay in the Guard until he retires—vowing to remain a warrior until the Guard tells him he has to stop.