Few have captured the spirit of “Everyone is a Recruiter” better than Petty Officer 2nd class Nathaniel Bracero and Petty Officer 2nd class Neisha Torres. The married Coast Guard couple, currently assigned to Base Portsmouth,Virginia, were so inspired by the service’s call for recruiting assistance last summer, they volunteered to promote the message back home in Puerto Rico.
The result was a five-day recruiting trip this past June where they met with students and other interested parties at local universities, gyms, and a basketball game. They also hosted a recruiting event in conjunction with the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
“The event was a total success,” Torres said.
It was also a lot of work. To start out, Torres, a storekeeper in the Comptroller and Base Operations Department, and Bracero, a yeoman who works in the Personnel Support Department, brainstormed where they might be able to advertise the Coast Guard to large groups of potential applicants on the island. Then they shared their ideas with the chain of command and received permissive orders to travel to Puerto Rico and assist Recruiting Office (RO) Guaynabo with its local efforts.
Once in Puerto Rico, Torres and Bracero kept a busy schedule. They spent their first day at RO Guaynabo ironing out details, receiving training on talking to potential applicants, and collecting recruiting materials for display and distribution. On their second day, they visited several universities in the area. They hosted a special event with the Auxiliary on their third day. On their fourth day, they visited gyms that were having “open houses” and set up an informational booth at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum during a Baloncesto Superior Nacional Basketball game. On their fifth day, they recruited at shopping malls, including Plaza del Sol Mayaguez Mall, the third largest shopping center in Puerto Rico. After interacting with hundreds of potential applicants, they conducted a pass down at the recruiting office before they left.
Torres said she decided to coordinate the event with the Auxiliary because her father, Auxiliary Staff Division Officer Octavio Torres, was the reason she joined the Coast Guard.
“My Dad has served in the Auxiliary for 25 years,” she said. “He told me about the benefits of joining, which I shared with my then boyfriend (now husband), and a childhood friend. Three members joined because of one Auxiliarist, So I thought the Auxiliary would be a great way to passively recruit since they are older folks who influence younger family members.”
Torres reached out to her father’s Flotilla Commander, Cmdr. Aracelis Mass, and began coordinating an event where she could have an audience and talk about the benefits of joining the service. The dates aligned with the Auxiliary Birthday, June 23, so they planned the first ever Auxiliary Coast Guard Day Celebration for Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 1-12. She then contacted the Sector San Juan Auxiliary Liaison, Lt. Joel Jones, for support, and requested funds for food from the Sector San Juan Chiefs Mess. Members of Sector San Juan command cadre attended as well as members of Flotilla 1-12.
What Bracero and Torres were able to do to was extraordinary. They engaged their community and shared their Coast Guard story. They also leveraged technology to gain potential applicants’ attention and communicate what the Coast Guard has to offer. Their efforts will positively impact recruiting goals and will influence active duty, reserves, civilians, and auxiliary to do the same, which is ultimately the goal – “Everyone is a Recruiter.”
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