But staff sergeant says economic downturn has not led to rise in recruitment
By ANDREA ZIMMERMANN
THE STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER
Posted Jan 03, 2009
Polaroid snapshots of enlistees cover one wall of the local Air Force
recruiting office, and Staff Sgt. Kevin Vettorel, known to his
recruits as Sgt. V, can tell a story about every person he has signed up.
Since Vettorel started recruiting in Springfield at the end of 2006,
he has blown past his recruiting goals of 25 in 2007 and 27 in 2008.
The first year, Vettorel recruited 172 percent of his goal, and last
year, he enlisted 222 percent.
In times of war and economic turmoil, the military is stable
employment that pays well.
This year, all four military branches met their recruiting goals,
according to the Pentagon, and the Air Force met its enlistment goals
for the ninth consecutive year in 2008.
But fellow recruiter Staff Sgt. Jacob Brandis says Vettorel's success
hasn't come easy, citing his intense work ethic, which includes long
hours and six-day workweeks, and dedication to his recruits as the
reasons Vettorel was recently tapped as one of the top Air Force
recruiters in the country.
The winners of the Air Force's prestigious Blue Suit award are
selected from the branch's nearly 1,200 recruiters. Recruiters such
as Vettorel are nominated by their recruiting groups and selected
based on recruiting goals and leadership qualities.
Jenne Jones, 23, of Springfield knows just how dedicated Vettorel is
to his recruits. Jones said that devotion even meant fielding a phone
call from her the day after Christmas, which could be part of an
extended holiday for many, about something as innocuous as sports
bras. Jones is set to leave Springfield for basic training Jan. 12.
"He is a busy man," Jones said. "I don't think the cell phone comes
off his head. He is always working. He is nonstop busy."
With the U.S. military fighting two wars and global terrorism,
recruiting in the Army and Marines took a hit in 2005, but this past
year, both met their goals. Recently, the Pentagon cited the
worsening economy as a boon to military recruiting. Vettorel,
however, said he hasn't seen an uptick in potential recruits.
"This is just the Air Force, it speaks for itself," he said. "I don't
think it is a problem of finding people who are willing, it's finding
people who are qualified."
The economy was a big factor for recent recruit and now Airman 1st
Class Jason Leach. The 24-year-old from Forsyth said he had posted
his resume on several job sites after graduating from Lakeland
Community College in Mattoon.
"I went on a couple of interviews, but nothing really fell into
place," Leach said. "I couldn't really find a job that made me happy,
that I wanted to do."
After he failed to qualify for a job with the Decatur Police
Department, Leach ended up in Vettorel's office last spring. Soon,
Leach enlisted, completed his training, and is now working at Mood
Air Force Base in Georgia.
Army 1st Sgt. Rusty Quaid, who is in charge of the Army's recruiting
efforts across central Illinois, has worked to enlist soldiers in
Springfield since 2000. Since hearing that the economy might
contribute to a spike in recruiting efforts, Quaid said he kept a
close eye on all four branches' efforts.
"I've been watching for that actually a bit in this area," Quaid
said. "No, I have not seen an influx.
"A lot of the kids, there's not a lot here for them. The biggest
request that we get is to leave the area so that they can branch out."
Airman 1st Class Scott Resetar spent almost eight months debating
whether to enlist. After graduating from Southern Illinois
University-Carbondale in May 2007, he moved back to Springfield to
complete an internship with a local hospital, but after it ended,
Resetar found himself at a crossroads and still waiting tables at a
"I was home from college for six to eight months and still in the
same position that I was in six to eight months before," he said. "I
figured I needed to do something to get out of Illinois."
So Resetar visited every office within the Armed Forces Career Center
off Veterans Parkway and found himself drawn back to the Air Force
"I went into every office in that building," Resetar said, "and V was
like, 'Hey I'm not going to pressure you, I'm not going to B.S. you.
Here are the facts. Check out the other services, and I think you'll
Resetar, 22, now does computer systems planning and implementation at
Vandenburg Air Force Base in California.
Andrea Zimmermann can be reached through the metro desk at 788-1519.