Air Force recruiting is plagued by a longstanding epidemic of falsifying records, according to multiple recruiters around the country.
And some recruiting supervisors tacitly encourage overworked and undermanned recruiters to falsify their reports — a practice commonly known as pencil-whipping — as a way to keep up with requirements that leave recruiters working brutally long hours, eight current and former recruiters said in interviews with Air Force Times.
Recruiters who don’t cut corners and try to do everything by the book said they are chewed out for not getting everything done and their performance evaluations and chances for promotion suffer. They also said they’re stretched so thin, they suffer from physical and mental problems. Several said they developed high blood pressure, hypertension, heart problems, depression and other medical conditions after becoming recruiters. Some recruiters’ home lives suffer because they’re away from home so much and are so stressed. One recruiter, who asked that his name not be printed, said he nearly attempted suicide earlier this year because he was so stressed from the pressures of recruitment.
Lemme tell you ’bout a common corner cut.
Kid comes in and agrees to join the service. The recruiter prescreens the candidate for health issues to ensure he meets the minimum requirements, or to find any issues that do need to be addressed such as medical records.
In addition to the usual stuff like broken bones, a common scenario was this- out of the blue, the kid blurts out that he had childhood asthma.
Well, you ask him, who told you that you had childhood asthma?
OK, where did your grandma go to medical school?
I mean, did your doctor tell her, or what? Is there someplace, some medical record we can find, that shows that yes, you did receive a diagnosis of childhood asthma? The course of treatment for it?
No? Your grandma just said it?
If you DO send a candidate to the MEPS who claims childhood asthma, but has no documentation to support the diagnosis, let alone show that he or she no longer has it, there is an excellent chance the doctor will simply classify them as not fit, no waiver. At best, they’ll send the candidate out for a pulmonary consult. Mind you, it’s a crap shoot. As a recruiter, I couldn’t ask for a pulmonary consult beforehand. So, here’s a kid with no documented history of respiratory distress, never to his recollection medicated for “asthma” and with no way to prove a negative about his condition.
It’s not a big surprise then that a recruiter would tell the candidate “Look, I’m not gonna be there with you and the doctor. You tell him what you want.”
The most grueling part of being a recruiter is that it IS grueling. It never stops. No one in your chain of command cares what you did last month, or in the preceding 24 months. What did you do this month? In a line company, you might have a operational tempo that is very stressful for a few months, a year, maybe a year and a half. But eventually you’ll hit a part of the cycle where you do have some breathing space, and where you’ll get to go home at a reasonable hour and see your wife, attend your kids ball games and school play.
And some people thrive in the sales environment. It comes to them naturally. Anyone can be trained to be a reasonably successful recruiter. But not everyone has the temperament to enjoy the duty. They’ll put their head down, and power through, because that’s the job. But they’ll also go back to their real Army job as soon as they can.