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Retired troop nets cash assisting recruiting

Guard program has paid out $143M since its inception

Feb. 8, 2009 - 08:46AM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 8, 2009 - 08:46AM  |  
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Travis DeVall spent 17 of his 20 years in the Army and National Guard as a recruiter, bringing more than 600 people into the service.

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Travis DeVall spent 17 of his 20 years in the Army and National Guard as a recruiter, bringing more than 600 people into the service.

DeVall, 41, retired as a master sergeant in September 2006, but that hasn't stopped him from recruiting.

In fact, he has recruited at least 112 more new soldiers since retirement — and earned a cool $192,000, and possibly up to $32,000 more, in the process. His success has made him the top producer in the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program.

"I'm kind of an RA on steroids," he said.

DeVall is one of more than 170,900 Guard soldiers and retirees who participate in the program, also known as G-RAP, which hands out payments for bringing in recruits. It was unveiled in December 2005, and more than 84,200 new soldiers have been recruited into the Guard through the program. It has become the source of almost half of the Guard's monthly accessions.

So far this fiscal year, G-RAP has netted 10,553 new soldiers for the Guard.

Participants in the program earn up to $2,000 for every new soldier they recruit into the Guard. An RA receives the first $1,000 when the recruit enlists and the second $1,000 when the new soldier ships to basic training.

Thirty-two of DeVall's recruits have yet to ship to basic.

So far, the Guard has paid its RAs $143 million for the more than 84,200 recruits they've brought into the service.

"I tell everybody everything has come back full circle," said DeVall, who lives in Tampa, Fla., and sees his role as an RA as a full-time job.

DeVall, who in 2006 earned a base pay of more than $48,850 a year as an E-8 with 20 years of service, said he spends anywhere from 15 to 40 hours a week talking to prospective soldiers.

When asked about the keys to his success, DeVall said he applies the same recruiting principles he learned and practiced while in uniform.

A benefit to G-RAP is he doesn't have to handle the paperwork involved in enlisting someone into the military, DeVall said. That job is handled by the full-time, uniformed recruiters.

"With this program I can focus a lot on prospecting and stay involved," he said. "I can cover a lot more ground and talk to people, which really, in recruiting, the best part is talking to people, sharing the Guard story and gathering interest and seeing that spark in their eye."

In addition, DeVall spent the last five years of his Guard career as a recruiter in the Tampa area, so he knows the community and is familiar with the local schools.

"I'm a very personable guy," DeVall said. "I have no problem talking to people, and I love talking to people about the Army National Guard."

His knowledge of his community has enabled him to enhance the uniformed recruiters, said DeVall, whose oldest son is serving in Iraq.

"If I have somebody I talk to and that interest is generated, that's when I introduce them to the recruiter, and throughout the process I stay involved with that prospect," he said. "[At that point] the recruiter is running it, but I stay involved just to keep that motivation and that excitement. It's all about building those relationships."

There is no resentment from the full-time recruiters, DeVall said.

"With the G-RAP program, I'm nothing more than an enhancement, a multiplier to their efforts," he said. "I can go into a school [and] I like to take the recruiters into a school with me. I do have the ability to generate a lot of interest and curiosity that walks [the prospective soldiers] up to [the recruiters'] front door and they can close them. I don't get in their business. The beauty of the program is working together to accomplish the mission."

The only down side to being an RA is he recruits his competition, DeVall said, because those new soldiers then have the ability to become RAs themselves.

"There are 100 and some people within my community now who are technically my competitors, which is interesting, but it's pretty cool," he said.

Successful recruiting comes down to what the prospective soldier is looking for, DeVall said.

"It goes back to the person you're talking to, making it about them. What are their goals?" he said.

DeVall said he plans to continue recruiting as long as the G-RAP program exists.

"When I retired I underestimated how much I would miss it," he said. "This allows me to still be involved and also contribute to the strength of the Guard."

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