DENTON, Texas – As Air Force Recruiting Service transitions to a Total Force recruiting model, a pair of recruiters here have been successfully practicing Total Force recruiting for years.
“We have worked together since late 2016, having offices right next to each other,” said Master Sgt. Michael Hammers, an Air Force Reserve recruiter. “We have been working together as enlisted line recruiters. He is active Air Force and I am a Reserve recruiter. We were working as a Total Force unit before the huge focus on Total Force.”
“I’ve known him since I came into recruiting back in November of 2016,” said Tech. Sgt. Corey Edwards, an active-duty Air Force recruiter. “Our first interaction came when he walked a guy into my office who was interested in the active duty. The applicant didn’t understand the differences between being active duty or a Reservist, but he wanted full-time pay and travel on a regular basis. These are typically active-duty benefits and not as likely in the Reserve. We’ve been next-door neighbors since that time. We’ve also worked high schools together and held events together throughout my almost four years of being stationed here.”
Since Hammers and Edwards are both focused on ensuring applicants find their best fit, sharing leads makes a lot of sense.
“Master Sgt. Hammers and I tend to give information on what we have to offer and push the applicant to get information from both sides,” Edwards said. “Once information is received, they must make the best decision for themselves given the pros and cons from each side. Honesty and transparency go a long way and allow the applicant to be committed to whatever they choose.”
“We both have the mindset of whatever is best for the applicant,” Hammers said. “Sometimes it’s active duty and sometimes it’s the Reserve, but it’s always about the applicant’s wants, needs and goals.”
As an example of how the pair work as a team, Hammers recalled talking to an interviewee who had fallen on hard times.
“He had just lost his job and had no family in the area or anything tying him down,” he said. “He did not even have transportation. Obviously, in the Reserve, you need transportation to get to weekend unit training. Additionally, he no longer had the means to keep a roof over his head. My first thought was active duty. I spoke with him about my experience having served four years on active duty right out of high school, and he was very interested. I introduced him to Tech. Sgt. Edwards and he enlisted.”
Also in the spirit of Total Force recruiting, Hammers and Edwards have worked hard to educate each other on their respective component.
“I think the greatest way Tech. Sgt. Edwards has helped me is with prior-service referrals,” Hammers said. “On active duty, it is very difficult for prior service people from any branch to join the active-duty Air Force, unless they want to go special warfare. The process for entry into the Reserve is much simpler. I’ve also taught him about the differences in promotions and the flexibility the Reserve offers.”
Sharing information paid off recently in a personal way in the Edwards household.
“When it came time for my wife to join, Master Sgt. Hammers gave her all of the information about the Reserve he had given to me," Edwards said.
Hammers had briefly met Ashley Edwards at the office, but it wasn’t until she gave him a call saying she wanted to join the Reserve that they really got to know each other. Ashley served nearly 10 years on active duty as a weather forecaster. She decided to separate so she could finish her college degree while participating in Air Force ROTC with hopes of commissioning.
“Ashley’s recruitment process was much longer than most,” Hammers said. “Our official initial interview was June of 2018. I had actually got her a confirmed date for her MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) for her physical when she told me she was pregnant. I congratulated her and the family but had to tell her she would have to wait to proceed to MEPS. I encouraged her and looked up the MEPS regulation on how long she had to wait before requesting another date for MEPS.”
Hammers told Ashley he would be there for her whenever she was ready to start the process again. And that’s exactly what he did.
“My husband would mention Master Sgt. Hammers from time to time whenever he discussed passing potential recruits his way or vice versa, so I knew he and Master Sgt. Hammers had a great working relationship,” Ashley said. “Meeting him was like meeting a distant relative for the first time. He was very easy to talk to and kept me excited to join again. He truly gave me light at the end of the tunnel.”
Through it all, Corey remained supportive of his wife and had faith his office neighbor would take care of his wife’s recruitment.
“He is the expert and the applicant-recruiter trust must be there,” he said. “She always had me for any questions though. I want her to achieve her goals. There isn’t much she can’t do when she puts her mind to it. Even with all of the roadblocks that have come her way, she finds ways to remain positive and continue searching for ways to come out on top.”
When Col. Tim Martz, 367th Recruiting Group commander, recently stopped by Hammers’ office for a visit, the topic of Total Force recruiting came up.
“I thought an office visit from the Reserve recruiting commander was phenomenal,” Hammers said. “The main discussion during his visit was mostly about family, morale, vision and Total Force. I told him I had always believed in Total Force recruiting and used the example of the Edwards family. Corey was in the office, so I introduced him to Col. Martz.”
“When I visited Master Sgt. Hammers, we made a point to visit Tech. Sgt. Edwards in support of the Total Force since they were in a collocated field office,” Martz said. “It was especially important to do so after hearing about this particular lead sharing event. It grabbed my attention because it was Tech. Sgt. Edward’s wife who was referred to our Reserve recruiter. Total Force recruiting and our lead sharing lines of effort are based on strong relationships and trust between recruiters. I thought it was a remarkable show of trust between recruiters across two components.
“To trust another recruiter with your spouse’s accession journey says a great deal about our recruiters in the field and the relationships they have built and fostered. This is what Total Force recruiting is all about.”
Through it all, the trust remained strong between team Edwards and Hammers. Ashley dropped 40 pounds after giving birth and was able to get her MEPS appointment done.
“MEPS, surprisingly, went smoother for me this time around than it did 10 years ago,” Ashley said. “Nothing about the process has changed, so that may have made it a little easier for me. Even though I don’t have any medical conditions, I still have to do an additional ‘older person’ back stretch every once in a while. I tried to keep those to a minimum since my younger teenage counterparts didn’t seem to have to need to stretch as much.”
Ashley was able to enlist June 12, 2020, in an education and training position at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. While she still aspires to complete her AFROTC program and commission, she is elated about her current job.
“I am very pleased with the training position I got,” she said. “I had previous experience as a training representative for my flight as an additional duty, so I knew how much hard work it would take. I also knew how many fellow Airmen you get to know and how much you can directly impact their career. I love talking and getting to know people, so being a unit training manager will give me the opportunity to not only help someone’s career, but also better my relationships with my fellow Air Force peeps.”