Potential Recruits Observe the Guard for a Day

U.S. service members in the Humanitarian Mine Action Basic Course HMA 05-15, practice their humanitarian mine detection skills during a practical exercise at Camp Ethan Allen Training Site, Jericho, Vt., Aug. 13, 2015. This is the first humanitarian mine action course taught at this location. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Rivard)U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Spc. Avery Cunningham/Released

Potential recruits from all over the state of Vermont visited Camp Ethan Allen Training Site in Jericho, Vermont, May 21, as part of a recruiting event called an "Open Training Day." They arrived to observe the Vermont Army National Guard cavalry units in action during their electives training day.

"Open training day, in general, is an opportunity for these potential recruits to fall in with the Soldiers and do some training to the extent allowed by our JAG (Judge Advocate General)," said Capt. Mathew E. Hefner, squadron plans officer, Headquarters, Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry Regiment (Mountain). "It's a far more inclusive way to look at what we actually do in the cavalry."

The potential recruits observed the 1st Squadron, 172nd conducting training that gave the Soldiers a chance to participate in a multitude of training events to increase their proficiency in different basic and cavalry skills including combat life saving, rifle marksmanship, mortar firing and forward observing. They also had the opportunity to view the Army Mountain Warfare School in action and check out an HH-60M Black Hawk helicopter with Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment (Air Ambulance).

"It's just an entirely different experience than looking at a video or reading it in a brochure," said Hefner.

Observing the Soldiers gives the potential recruits an opportunity to see what the guard actually does outside of looking at ads.

"They get to see what it looks like when a 120 mm mortar hits, they get to see what's involved in setting up the gun line," said Hefner. "It's just a far more inclusive way to look at what we actually do in the cavalry

"Because we're here, we get to see what they're actually doing, get to visually experience what they're experiencing and get a better taste of what we'd be joining, the community and type of people you'd be around," said Victoria Flanagan, a potential recruit.

Witnessing training offers an in-depth view into the military world. It gives them a realistic perception of the training they'd be doing if they joined the Vermont Army National Guard.

"It gave us a unique opportunity to give these potential recruits a good understanding of all the things we do as a cavalry squadron," said Hefner.

This new understanding fostered by the guard is part of the objective of the Open Training Day. The goal is to get the best-educated recruits that know what they're getting into, said Hefner.

It's a special occasion for the potential recruits to see the guard conduct mortar fire, geometry, and other aspects of their training not always shown in media, said Flanagan. There's a multiple step process to achieve a task that goes beyond the end result. It takes a team, work and unity.

Ultimately, the Open Training Day was able to show the potential recruits the Vermont National Guard and allowed Soldiers to explain, through words and actions, what it is that they accomplish in the guard.

"It gets you a lot of exposure to see what the National Guard is all about and to see the real people who are part of it," said Flanagan.

In addition to showing the potential recruits the character of the Soldiers in the guard and the guard itself, the training also revealed the different career possibilities recruits can chase.

"I've been exploring a lot of branches and a lot of different opportunities, and the National Guard is very open and flexible to what you want to do as a career," said Flanagan. "There are so many job opportunities and ways you can go, and I think there is a place for everybody in the National Guard."