Illinois National Guard Recruits, Families Prepare for Military Print
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Written by Spc John Dorsey and Sgt. Charlie Helmholt, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment   
Friday, 23 December 2011 16:16

CHICAGO, IL (12/21/2011)(readMedia)-- On the morning of Dec. 3, the booming voices of drill sergeants were heard throughout the Illinois National Guard's Kedzie armory in Chicago.

Recruits stood at attention while cadre of Company B, Illinois National Guard Recruiting Retention Command (RRC) conducted a simulated day of Army basic training.

With their families in attendance, recruits took part in the Recruit Sustainment Program (RSP) workshops. The program is sponsored by the Family Support Brigade, a not-for-profit organization partnered with RSP to provide family support, and is designed to give both new recruits and their families an in depth look at the life of a Soldier in basic training.

"We are here to prepare the recruits physically, mentally and emotionally for the military," said 1st Sgt. Aaron Ferrer of Highland Park, the senior enlisted adviser for Company B.

The day consisted of four main events that included combatives, weapons familiarization, team building exercises and military operations in an urbanized terrain training.

These events instill discipline and confidence in the recruits. For example, combatives provides them a better working knowledge of self defense they can use in future operations, said Staff Sgt. Justin M. Gullion of Northbrook, the level-one combatives instructor for Company B.

Pvt. Katharine Linhart of Brookfield, with Company B, enlisted her junior year of high school. She recently completed Basic Combat Training and will attend Advance Individual Training to become a combat medic after she completes high school.

Linhart said the RSP training prepared her for basic training and helped her maintain that discipline.

"It's been very active and we do a lot of hands-on training," said Linhart.

The program exposes enlistees to what they may experience in basic training and gets them accustomed to the Army's core values, other Soldiers and noncommissioned officers.

"It definitely makes me feel like I chose to do the right thing with my life," said Linhart.

The program was designed not only to show recruits and their families the military lifestyle, but also as a tool to keep recruiting numbers high and attrition rate low.

By giving recruits a "sneak peak" at what to expect in basic training helps them make an educated decision on whether or not the military is the correct career path for them.

The state's program has shown increasingly effective results, said Ferrer. While the National Guard Bureau standard is 83 percent of Soldiers to ship to basic training, the Illinois National Guard has exceeded this.

"Our numbers in the state of Illinois for Fiscal Year 2011 recruit ship rate was 91 percent," said Ferrer. "This clearly shows that programs like RSP are working to make the process of recruitment and retention more efficient."

"Preparing and ensuring these recruits and their families a smooth transition into the military arena is our goal and we are here to do just that," said Ferrer.

Photo 1: Photo by Sgt. Charlie Helmholt, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment / Staff Sgt. Justin M. Gullion of Northbrook, the level-one combatives instructor for Company B, Illinois National Guard Recruiting and Retention Command, displays a dominant mounting technique to family members during a self defense workshop as a part of the recruit sustainment program Dec. 3 at the Illinois National Guard Kedzie armory Chicago.

Photo 2: Photo by Spc. Jason Dorsey, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment/ Staff Sgt. Francisco Santiago of Chicago, of Company B, Illinois National Guard Recruit Retention Command, explains the fundamentals of weapons handling during a class on urban warfare training as part of a recruit sustainment program workshop Dec. 3 at the Illinois National Guard Kedzie armory in Chicago.

For high resolution photos, please contact the Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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