On the hinges of the 77 anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard on Dec. 7, 1941, Grayson County has seen an slight decrease in the number of naval recruits in the current year from the previous year.

U.S. Navy Cmdr. Daniel Boutros, commanding officer of Navy Recruiting District Dallas, said Grayson County falls under the recruiting responsibility of the Dallas area.

Currently, NRD Dallas operates a Navy Recruiting Station in Sherman that is responsible for all recruiting efforts in Grayson County. There are three permanent Navy recruiters stationed there with a regional supervisor that visits the area weekly.

“To attract the top performers – the kinds of people who get AFQT scores of 65 or better – to become the nukes and cryptographers of tomorrow, we’re going to have to make sure we’re putting in our best efforts, and utilizing every resource at our disposal,” Boutros said.

Boutros answered a few questions in an email interview about North Texas recruiting.

Q. What are the recruiting goals for your branch of the military in the Grayson County area?

A. In fiscal year 2019, the Navy set a goal to recruit 39,000 Sailors nationwide. 33 qualified men and women for enlisted from Grayson County. The nationwide goal for fiscal year 2020 have increased to 41,000.

Q. Which communities do you tend to see the most interest from potential recruits?

A. The Navy attracts people from a broad range of communities and experiences, and our ranks truly are a cross-section of America. Navy programs appeal to people with interests as broad as welding and construction occupations to doctors, engineers and professional pilots.

Q. What are our numbers like? How does that compare to previous years?

A. In fiscal year 2019, 25 men and women from Grayson County joined the Navy, whereas FY 2018 saw 33 people from Grayson enlisting in the Navy. The Navy is recruiting the Navy the nation needs and expanding the force, which is designed to meet the challenges our nation will continue to face in the twenty-first century.

Q. What are some of the practices that tend to work in recruiting for today’s military?

A. Community outreach and community relation projects give recruiters a great opportunity to meet people face-to-face, develop relationships and inform the public about the Navy. Our community relationship gives us a unique opportunity to mentor and recruit future sailors. With greater understanding of the opportunities through naval service, the greater the public’s response has been in people joining the Navy.

Q. What typically prompts an increase in recruiting? What about a decrease?

A. There are many things that inspire people to join the Navy. Many people join the Navy for education, job related bonuses, health care or any of the many other benefits a naval career offers. Historically recruiting goals are more difficult to achieve in a strong economy. We have a lot of competition for the best people. The unemployment rate in the age range of our target demographic is at its lowest point since December 1969, wages are on the rise, and the number of young people who are highly qualified, eligible, and show propensity to serve is declining.

Q. What makes an ideal candidate? What methods or information does your branch of the military highlight to attract those candidates?

A. The Navy is looking for candidates who readily embrace the service’s core values of honor, courage, and commitment. We are competing for talent that is strong academically, physically, and morally. Students with strong STEM backgrounds are always ideal. The Navy has advanced programs that require the best and brightest in our nation. Our fleet needs doctors, nurses, lawyers, cyber security professionals, aviators, and nuclear engineers. Our special warfare community needs SEALS, divers, explosive ordnance technicians, and air rescue swimmers that are physically elite and academically gifted.

The strongest way to reach these key demographics is through honesty and integrity when dealing with all members of the public. The information we share with potential applicants is truthful and accurate. By earning the trust of the public we serve, the Navy is able to effectively share and highlight its programs. We share information through various online mediums such as websites and social media channels and in person at community presentations, career fairs, and public events.

Q. What are some of the benefits of joining the military today?

A. There are myriad benefits to joining the Navy. Travel, monetary incentives, job training, student loan repayment, and college scholarships work to incentivize a career in the Navy.

One often overlooked benefit of the Navy is the experience. Many commercial pilots were trained and logged thousands of flight hours in the Navy before transitioning to the civilian sector. All of our sailors leave the service with some college credits, and will not only have formalized training in their selected career field, but will also have years of experience to demonstrate that training.

Many active duty enlisted sailors take advantage of tuition assistance programs to pursue a college degree while serving, and officers have the option of attending graduate-level institutions while in service. These institutions include the Naval War College, Naval Postgraduate School, and Joint Services Command and Staff College.

Q. How is recruiting in general across the nation? How do we compare?

A. The United States Navy continually meets its national recruiting goals and the recruiting station in Sherman keeps pace with its goals as assigned by NRD Dallas.

Q. What about selective service? Who has to sign up and what are the restrictions or exceptions, if any?

A. According the Selective Service website, “Almost all male U.S. citizens and male immigrants, who are 18 through 25, are required to register with Selective Service.” Additional information on the program can be found at https://www.sss.gov/.

Q. Any additional comments you wish to include here please do so.

A. Recently, as part of the Navy’s executive outreach program, a senior Navy official visited the Sherman area to meet with leaders in the area. Captain Jason Rimmer, Commanding Officer of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, based in Norfolk, Virginia is a graduate of Sherman High School and during his visit took the time to meet with student from the school’s Future Farmers of America program.