For Navy recruiters, reaching out to potential recruits in non-coastal areas can be particularly challenging. Many people living within these areas are simply unaware of the career programs the Navy has to offer. With help from the U.S. Fleet Forces Band, recruiters use the Music for Recruiting program to strengthen awareness of Navy opportunities.

Last week, when the U.S. Fleet Forces Band walked onto the stage to perform at Union Pines High School, Petty Officer 2nd Class Shilette Williams, a recruiter stationed in Navy Recruiting District Raleigh wasn't sure how the students in the audience would react. She and her fellow Navy recruiters observed the students as they quietly filed into the auditorium and took their seats.

The eyes of over 200 teenagers, lit with excitement and curiosity, stared at the uniformed Sailors who stood before them. However, a few of the students looked nervous. For many of them, this event would facilitate their first interactions with active, uniformed members of the Navy.

Williams knows how important it is for recruiters to make a good first impression with potential Navy recruits. The moment Lead Vocalist, Petty Officer 3rd Class Julius Coker sang the first lyric of the first song, the crowd went wild. Williams was overjoyed.

"Sometimes they (high school students) feel too intimidated to approach us," said Williams.
"When we do things like this it makes them feel more comfortable and it's easier to communicate with them."

Effective communication is vital in getting people to understand what the Navy does and what opportunities it has to offer. In non-coastal areas, where people aren't accustomed to seeing Navy ships or interacting with sailors, Navy recruiters have to work particularly hard to educate the population about the Navy. Oftentimes, the key to successfully recruiting people within these areas is to abate the fear of the unknown. The Navy's Music for Recruiting program is a bridge between recruiters and anxious prospective applicants.

"Music is a universal language, so you get that connection," says Guitarist and 17 year Navy veteran, Chief Petty Officer Jeremy Ward. "It has a huge impact, because music brings about good emotions that everyone can feel."

The band performed its renditions of hit songs from artists, such as Stevie Wonder, Drake, Michael Jackson and Justin Beiber. The song choices, popular among teenagers, connected the Sailors on the stage with the students in the audience.

"Popular music is a way to directly communicate in a meaningful way with the generation that the Navy is trying to recruit," says Pianist, Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Oren. "Plus, we have so much fun seeing the students enjoy the music we play. I asked a few kids what they liked best, and they said everything."

The U.S. Fleet Forces Band provides performs a broad range of musical genres for community events, ships and military bases throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Ohio River Valley areas of the United States. Visit the U.S. Fleet Forces Band website for more information about the band and performances.


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Updated March 1, 2017 (kbh)