Story and photos by Sgt. 1st Class Pete Fritsch, ORARNG Recruiter
For several of the Oregon National Guard’s newest Soldiers, the day after Christmas wasn’t spent sleeping-in or shopping at the mall.
Home for their Holiday Block Leave (HBL), their focus was on developing a plan of integration once their Basic Training/AIT is over. They received several briefs including how to fill out an ADOS packet, what is offered by the Hero’s 2 Hired campaign, and ROTC opportunities, to name a few.
“I was pleasantly surprised that the recruiters spent so much time talking with us about our plan for when we complete training”, said Pvt. Kayla Peterson, who just completed basic training, and is in her fourth week of AIT at Fort Jackson, in Columbia, S.C.
“I don’t think that anyone else in my platoon back at Fort Jackson had this opportunity over HBL,” she added.
Under the Hometown Recruiting Assistance Program (HRAP), Soldiers who return home for the holidays are allowed to work with their recruiters in lieu of charged leave. The Oregon City recruiters have also elected to provide a seminar for the new Soldiers to help them understand all of the opportunities that await them when they return home after AIT.
“In Oregon, the CTAP, Yellow Ribbon and other reintegration programs are nationally recognized and have proven to be extremely successful for Soldiers returning from deployments,” said Oregon City recruiter Staff Sgt. Roger Griffin. “We wanted to bring those same resources to our soldiers returning from their initial training,” he said.
The seminar concluded with Oregon Army National Guard Sgt. Maj. Beau Lintner, 82 Brigade S-1 Sergeant Major, who addressed the new Soldiers and shared his advice for making the most out of their National Guard career. Most important, he told them how to stay on track with promotions.
“The future of the Oregon National Guard looks bright after what I saw and heard today,” Lintner said. “These professional young Soldiers asked questions that show me they are eager to be problem solvers and future leaders in our organization,” he added. “It was an honor for me to welcome them home.”
The newly-minted Oregon Soldiers are due to report back to their various training sites including Fort Jackson, Fort Benning, Ga.; Fort Sill, Okla.; and Fort Gordon, Ga. between Jan. 1-3. Some have as few as three weeks remaining in their training while others will continue training for up to 11 weeks.
Participants agreed that they are eager to return and complete their training but even more excited to have their first drill with their Oregon Guard units. In turn, the Oregon National Guard will be happy to welcome them back.