OIF Veteran Returns Home to Help Army Recruiters

An Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran made good use of his experiences working alongside U.S. Army recruiters in his hometown for two weeks this month.

Spc. Paul D. Workman, a human resources specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 159th Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, just wrapped up a tour in Bowling Green, Ky., participating in the Special Recruiter Assistance Program. The SRAP program offers Soldiers who have served on the front lines the opportunity to convey their experiences back in their local communities.

"I've got a newfound respect for these recruiters," Workman said. "This job is not easy."

Recruiters put Workman to work right away. He accompanied three different recruiters throughout the Bowling Green area to various stops, and was not confined to sitting in a recruiting station.

"We wanted him to be out prospecting as much as he could," said Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Salloum, one of the station's recruiters. "These younger Soldiers who have gotten deployed can probably better relate to the community and to young people."

Workman, 22, attended McNeil High School before moving to Nashville, Tenn., with his father, Mark. He graduated from Brentwood High School in 2004 and joined the Army one week afterwards. He said the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, had started him thinking about military service.

"9/11 was probably my whole reason for joining," Workman said.

Workman deployed to Iraq last year with the Screaming Eagles at nearby Fort Campbell, Ky. He was stationed at Logistics Support Area Anaconda, which is near Balad in northern Iraq. His service in Iraq generates a lot of questions.

"If they ask about Iraq, I tell them," Workman said. "I try to let them know what it is like over there. They ask me if I ever killed anybody over there and if it's really that hot in Iraq."

After returning from Iraq, Workman said a friend told him about the SRAP program. He registered online to participate and was told he was accepted.

The recruiting station's assistant commander, Sgt. 1st Class Jesse Allen, said it was great having Workman at the Bowling Green station.

"He helped us with our recruiting efforts and was able to communicate with the younger generation a little easier than the rest of us," Allen said.

Workman, who stayed with his mother, Velma, while on SRAP duty, netted the station 16 potential recruits, five of whom have already had appointments with recruiters.

Workman said he is leaning toward reenlisting; a hefty reenlistment bonus and a stable future are the big factors driving this decision.

"I want a family one day," Workman said. "Nobody takes care of a family like the Army can in my opinion."

A tour as a recruiter is also an option, Workman said.

"I would be open to it," he said. "I've certainly learned the importance of the mission of putting people in boots."