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NEWS | Nov. 3, 2020

Recruiting Reinforcements: Navy Reservists provide critical support to Navy Recruiting Command keeping new accessions on track during COVID-19

By Jordan Smith, Navy Recruiting Command Public Affairs Office

Recruiting Reinforcements
SLIDESHOW | 3 images | Recruiting Reinforcements JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (23 Sept. 2020) Navy Reserve Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Harrell conducts an oath of enlistment ceremony for a group of Navy applicants at the Jacksonville, Florida Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). Navy Reserve Sailors on orders to the MEPS recently provided critical support to the Navy Recruiting Command operations, keeping the pipeline for new military accessions operational during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Navy photo courtesy Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Harrell)

As a wife and mother of two, Information Systems Technician 1st Class Shannon Manuel, an 18-year Navy Veteran, knew that keeping her family safe during the COVID-19 pandemic was a priority. As a Navy Reservist, currently assigned to Navy Recruiting Command’s Reserve Support Unit, she felt a responsibility to keep her fellow citizens safe as well. So she did what many Reserve Sailors across the nation have done during this crucial time, she put on her uniform and went to work.  

Since its inception in 1915, the U.S. Navy Reserve has provided invaluable service and support to the United States and its partners, notably during times of crisis. Among their many contributions to our nation, Navy Reservists hunted enemy U-boats during World War I; they defended our citizens after the attack on Pearl Harbor; and they mobilized after the September 11 attacks to provide combat operations support for the Global War on Terror. So when the COVID-19 pandemic threatened our country earlier this year, Navy Reservists like Manuel were once again ready to provide crucial support. 

Manuel is among 55 Navy Reservists assigned to NRC mobilized to keep the Navy’s accessions pipeline open and operational while much of the world went into lock down. Protecting the accessions pipeline is one of the most essential functions in the Navy, so recruiters had to continue bringing qualified recruits into the service. The accessions pipeline controls personnel flow, which includes new Sailor production. However, with recruiters across the nation having to telework due to childcare difficulties, health concerns or high-risk family members, the need for support was critical, and NRC’s Reserve component was ready. Without the Reserve effort, the flow of personnel could have stalled. 

“Our fully integrated, trained and available Navy Reserve team is vital to fulfilling the operational capacity and strategic depth needed by Navy Recruiting Command to inform, attract, influence and hire the highest quality candidates from America’s diverse talent pool into the Navy the nation needs,” said Rear Adm. Robert Nowakowski, Deputy Commander of Naval Education & Training Command and Navy Recruiting Command. “Our highly-skilled, force-multiplying, citizen Sailors are continuously and collectively enabling our recruiting efforts to transform and support operations to maintain a competitive advantage over our adversaries in order to win the high-end fight.” 

NRC’s 55 Reserve billets are split up across five units: Millington, Jacksonville, Minneapolis, Houston and San Diego. 

For Capt. Kathleen Allen, commanding officer, Navy Reserve, Navy Recruiting Command (NR NRC) in Millington, Tennessee, the 770 hours of service her team provides would typically be spent supporting recruiting events and activities in the field. However, due to COVID-19, planned events and activities were quickly canceled and the focus shifted to staff support. 

Since mid-March, Sailors like Manuel have been on orders, racking up hundreds of hours of direct support to CNRC’s mission, said Allen.  

“Manuel’s support of identifying, tracking, packing and shipping safety gear and promotional items to the Navy Recruiting Districts (NRDs)/Navy Talent Acquisition Groups (NTAGs) has been a tremendous help to the command,” said Allen. “I can’t say enough about how impressed I am with the Reserve team. In a time of restricted travel, we have been able to adapt and overcome, providing quality support for the command to execute its mission.” 

Despite travel and contact limitations due to the pandemic, the Reserve team was able to overcome them in a big way by providing direct support to Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS) across the nation to keep the accessions pipeline moving — with some Reservists helping the commands administer enlistment oaths. In all, Allen’s team completed 3,041 support days for the fiscal year, with 1,141 days to MEPS and 1,900 to CNRC commands and events — coordinating close to four times the expected amount of support days.

“The Reserve team’s outstanding effort has been integral to the success of the recruiting enterprise ... Their dedication to the Navy’s mission, especially in the midst of a global pandemic, is emblematic of what it means to be a Sailor in the U.S. Navy.”

Cmdr. Charles Knight, a husband and father or three, who works as a senior vice president with a business-to-government contractor, knew the Navy needed him to step away from his civilian life, and into his role as the Officer in Charge of Navy Reserve, NRD detachment Jacksonville.  

Knight’s unit comes equipped with only 112 Annual Training days to support Navy Recruiting Command each fiscal year, but Knight knew more was needed.  

“When the call for Reserve staff support demand signals were sent to our active component shipmates, they answered swiftly,” said Knight. “This July alone we coordinated and executed 222 days of support to Navy Recruiting Command, including the NTAGs, NRDs and MEPS. And we currently have 614 more days scheduled for the next two months.” 

The support Knight and his unit provided was not only vast, but varied as well. From lending operational assistance to phone conferences, assisting in virtual career fairs to supporting MEPS Jacksonville by fulfilling roles as swearing-in officers and oath of enlistment contract signers for military entrance applicants, Knight’s team did it all. 

They were vital in keeping current operations running smoothly by performing tasks like general admin and training via telework, but the team also prepared for future events. One instance of this being the performance of an organizational inspection for MEPS Jacksonville to assist in preparing for Military Entrance Processing Command Inspector General (MEPCOM IG) inspection scheduled for 2021. 

Some of the support from Knight’s team fixed current issues for those they were assisting as well as prevented new issues, such as when support was provided to NRC N1 — the department that heads workforce matters pertaining to civilian, military, and contractor personnel — by meticulously comparing data and conducting admin screenings to more than 3000 data entries, which resulted in identifying more than 250 discrepancies. 

Regardless of the type of support they gave, the impact was always profound. 

By assigning a Reservist to do additional essential duties, even duties as simple as taking the temperature of staff members upon entry into the building, active duty staff members at the command were free to do their regular jobs, said Knight.  

“I think one of the things the Navy has instilled in us is to look for the solutions,” said Knight. “Identifying the problem seems to always be easy for everyone to do, but I think we found a great solution here. Our support facilitated uninterrupted services during a time of major interruptions,” 

“The Reserve team’s outstanding effort has been integral to the success of the recruiting enterprise,” said Adm. Dennis Velez, commander, Navy Recruiting Command. “Their dedication to the Navy’s mission, especially in the midst of a global pandemic, is emblematic of what it means to be a Sailor in the U.S. Navy.” 

Navy Recruiting Command consists of a command headquarters, three Navy Recruiting Regions, seven Navy Recruiting Districts and 19 Navy Talent Acquisition Groups servicing more than 815 recruiting stations across the world. Their combined goal is to attract the highest quality candidates to assure the ongoing success of America’s Navy.