I have heard a lot of talk lately about recruiters and the recruitment process--not just with the Marine Corps, but with all branches. Having dealt with several recruiters in my time, I have seen first hand both bad recruiters and good recruiters.
When I first decided to join the military, I called the Air Force recruiter and left a message. He called me at work and I told him that really wasn't a good time for me to talk (in the lobby of the bank). I returned his phone call that evening at the appointed time. He had music blaring in the background, which I found somewhat unprofessional. He talked to me for only a minute, then informed me that, "You can try if you want to, but you're probably not going to get in because we just don't want women right now." That did not make me happy and I said, "Oh that's fine. I'll find someone who does want me," and terminated the conversation.
My experience with the Navy recruiter was a much more positive one, in spite of what I'm sure I put him through with my switching branches. Yes, he did get aggravated and once he pretty much hung up on me, but I'm sure I am sure I was quite an annoyance. I am not one to believe, "It can't be done." (My mother taught me from an early age that there's no such thing as "can't." :) At the risk of receiving a lot of condemnation for not being strong enough, I will say that the Navy recruiter held more than one minimum-of-one-hour conversations in which he would make me cry. He did not take my criticism of his superiors very well, but I believe that before it was over with, he knew I was right. My biggest thing with the Navy recruiter was that he basically tried to talk me out of joining any branch of the military and told me that if I insisted, I was an "Air Force person."
I have dealt with both my recruiter in the Marine Corps, a Staff Sergeant, as well as his superior, a Gunnery Sergeant. They both went out of their way for me, but as soon as I had signed my papers, they were quick to stop being so responsive. A big irritation I have with the SSGT is when I call and he says, "I'll call you right back," and never. calls. back. That irritates me. Once I didn't call him for two weeks, just to see if he noticed, and apparently he didn't. But honestly, even though we are required to report in, there's really no reason I need to talk to him most of the time. Although those little things do irritate me, I can't say there's anything major that is bad. I know that if I ever truly need something, both of the recruiters are there.
I've even talked to an Army recruiter. One called me when I was contemplating joining the Marine Corps, and in the process of getting out of the Navy. I have to say as recruiters go, I was the most impressed with him. (For the record, I have a friend who was all set for joining the Navy, then talked to this guy and is happily in the Army.) He asked me some questions and I told him that I wasn't interested in the Army, but I also wasn't closed to the idea. After hearing about my acceptance to The Citadel, he said, "Yes, I would do about anything to get you to join the Army, but it seems like you have enough decisions to make so I am not going to bother you any more. Here is my number if you choose the Army."
I have never had a recruiter tell me I will not go to Iraq. I have never had a recruiter tell me I am guaranteed to be safe. I have never had a recruiter tell me that boot camp was "easy." I have never had one promise me that it is all fun and games. My conclusion is this: Yes, there are bad recruiters, but most of the time the problem is that potential recruits have selective hearing.
I once had a mother ask me that her son's Marine Corps recruiter promised him that he would not go to Iraq with his MOS (Legal Services). I talked to the son. He confirmed that his recruiter had said that. After I put him through the third degree, he admitted that in reality, all his recruiter had said that with the MOS of Legal Services, he was less likely to go to Iraq than a grunt, and that if he went, he would be safer than for example, an MP. I think that many times this is the case. I am not saying recruiters do not lie, but I would say that most of the time it is a case of selective hearing.
The other day, a retired Soldier informed me that being a recruiter is the "Career Killer" MOS. No one wants to be a recruiter, she said, and those who do end up hating it. I have seen so much screwed up stuff in recruitment that I would actually like to be a recruiter for awhile, just to do things the right way.
My Navy recruiter informed me that he had learned a very important lesson after his experience with me. The lesson was this: For the Navy, never recruit someone who wants to be a Marine. Only let people in who want to be Sailors. If you aid people in "settling" for less than their dreams, it will only hurt everyone involved in some way. My Marine recruiter told me that his first recruit ended up being a disaster, and that now he has actually told people that he refuses to recruit them. While I seriously doubt that such refusals are the norm, I do understand where he is coming from. Some might say that this is what the Air Force recruiter did to me, but there is a difference in turning down people on drugs, versus turning down people on the basis of sex, race, etc. I heard that this Air Force recruiter was put out of recruiting because after talking to him, so many people refused to join the Air Force.
One of my teachers, her husband was a Navy recruiter in Chicago for awhile. He never saw one female go to boot camp. The recruitment process is quite complicated, and needs many many improvements, but I do not blame the recruiters for being the "liars" they are portrayed to be.