By Staff Sgt. Duane Duimstra, 114th Fighter Wing
/ Published February 24, 2017
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Tech Sgt. Bo Ellefson, 114th Fighter Wing recruiter, speaks with James Kurtenbach, Sioux Falls native, about the benefits of membership in the South Dakota Air National Guard. Ellefson is part of a five-person recruiting team who spread awareness of the South Dakota Air National Guard mission and the benefits of joining. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Duane Duimstra/Released)
Recent changes to recruiting policies, added and improved incentives, as well as new recruiting efforts are helping the 114th Fighter Wing Recruiting team attract more recruits to join the South Dakota Air National Guard.
The five Airmen team travels across South Dakota and surrounding states spreading the benefits of joining the unit.
Recent policy changes have increased interest in joining the South Dakota Air National Guard and one of the biggest changes is to the tattoo policy.
“The previous tattoo policy only allowed a tattoos to cover 25% of an exposed body part and nothing above neck line,” said Tech Sgt. Bo Ellefson, 114th Fighter Wing recruiter. “The new policy is less restricted on the amount of tattoos a person has as long as it does not go above the collar bone and they can’t be racial, gang symbols, or offensive.”
Another change helping recruiting efforts is how the medical waivers are reviewed. Medical policies at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) have not changed, but the Surgeon General review process of submitted waivers has.
“We are hoping for a decrease in medical disqualifications with the new change in medical waiver review processes.” said Master Sgt. Brian Johnson, 114th Fighter Wing recruiting and retention manager.
Another effort to increase recruitment by Air National Guard is the return of a $20,000 bonus to non-prior service members for select career fields. The bonus will be broken down into two payments of $10,000 each on the third and fifth anniversaries of enlistment.
Along with the non-prior service signing bonus, the tuition assistance program for the South Dakota Air National Guard has increased. The state will pay over 80% per credit hour for vocational schools. State supported colleges and universities assistance remains at 50%, but now includes the student support fee.
New tactics and efforts have increased the awareness of the South Dakota Air National Guard to potential recruits.
“We are attending more high school events such as the state wrestling tournaments. This has given us an opportunity to spread awareness about the South Dakota Air National Guard as well as interact with our target audience,” said Johnson.
The 114th Fighter Wing Recruiting team also implemented a “School Blitz.”
“School Blitz is where we make an informal visit to a smaller high school that we wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to visit. We get to interact with the students,” said Tech. Sgt. Jordan Snyder, 114th Fighter Wing recruiter. “We are in the process of scheduling another School Blitz later this spring.”
The awareness of the South Dakota Air National Guard to the public has improved significantly due to the policy and incentive changes as well as efforts of the 114th Fighter Wing recruiting team but they still believe that fellow Airmen of the 114th Fighter Wing are their biggest recruiting tool.
“Even though the recent changes have given us an improved chance to recruit, our current Airmen are still our best recruitment tools. The way they represent the South Dakota Air National Guard to the public and how they interact with possible recruits is a recruiting tool that can’t be replaced.” said Ellefson.