Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Leslie Koxvold


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (NNS) -- Sailors can face a lot of obstacles in their lives and careers, and even more challenges are faced if those Sailors become Navy recruiters. For Navy Counselor 1st Class Jonathan Shrum, the desire to succeed has motivated him to stick with the Navy, and ultimately Navy recruiting, even when personal and professional challenges have been tough.

Shrum, a Nashville, Tennessee native, began his career in Gallatin, Tennessee. He walked into the recruiting station and enlisted as an undesignated airman in 2002. His first duty station was on the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) where he earned his job rating as an Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) and was promoted to petty officer third class.

His career was going well and his new family was off to a good start with a baby boy on the way. Addison Shrum was born in 2003. From the outside looking in, everything seemed perfect.

Tragically, Shrum’s family would be faced with hardship when his wife, Brandy, was diagnosed with breast cancer. The cancer ultimately metastasized to other areas, and Shrum was placed on Humanitarian Reassignment (HUMS) orders to Military Entry Processing Station (MEPS) Nashville as a job classifier Jan., 2005. It was on this tour of duty Shrum was able to get his first glimpse into recruiting and the opportunities it holds for a new career path.

As his wife’s cancer went into remission, Shrum continued his career and went back to the fleet Feb. 2006. There he worked aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and then moved onto Naval Auxiliary Landing Field (NALF) Fentress, May, 2008. With two operational commands completed Shrum transferred again to another aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Jan. 2012.

Life seemed good. There was hope and a sense of stability for Shrum, but within a year of being aboard the carrier Brandy’s cancer came back. Shrum took HUMS orders again, which brought the couple back to Nashville. This time he was assigned to Navy Operation Support Center (NOSC) Nashville.

For over a year Brandy and her husband fought cancer together and it went back into remission for the second time. As difficult as the cancer and the treatment can be, the couple stayed strong even when they learned that Brandy will need chemotherapy for the rest of her life in order to keep the cancer from returning.

As Shrum’s three-year assignment at the NOSC came to an end, he decided to return to the world of recruiting. He took orders in 2016 to Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Nashville, which was later renamed Navy Talent Acquisition Group (NTAG) Nashville, 2018.

Upon his return to recruiting, Shrum worked as the officer processor for a year. Even though he excelled at the job, he wanted more. The following year he switched his position from processing to recruiting. He had a knack for it and realized his potential in the field.

“When I was only doing recruiting, I enjoyed going to the schools and helping people that wanted to join,” said Shrum. He wanted to give people the same opportunities he has had.

Shrum realized his career and family would be better suited for a life in recruiting. With Addison being a teenager in high school and Brandy being dependent on her chemotherapy treatment, Shrum said staying in recruiting, sticking with it, and preparing for retirement is the right move for his family.

He knew returning to a sea duty and being deployed would be too much for them, so he decided to submit a hometown recruiter application to change his job rating from Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) to be a career recruiter as a Navy Counselor.

“I converted to Navy counselor in December 2018, and now I’m a director over four stations,” said Shrum. “I wanted to stay here, and this was the better choice for everyone.”

Though he made his decision with his personal situation in mind, his focus has never strayed from what is important in a Navy career. When asked what is it that motivates him, Shrum joked and began to name the other recruiters in the room.

However, he changed his tone to a slightly more serious expression and said his motivation does actually lie in the recruiters he is in charge of. 
“Now, I don’t want to fail my recruiters, and I don’t want my recruiters to fail. I want my recruiters to be successful,” said Shrum. “On a daily basis I am more worried about their success than my success. In the past, I worried more about myself and what I needed to do, but it’s my responsibility now to take care of other Sailors."

For Shrum, recruiting isn’t any easier than it would be for any other recruiter. He said, “I would say not to get discouraged when you first start. You have to stick with it and continue to find your own way to relate to future applicants."

Connecting with Future Sailor applicants is the most important piece of recruiting and the driving factor to success.

“It is all on a personal basis,” said Shrum. “You have to be able to relate to them and their issues and reasons why they are wanting to join and what their career aspirations are.”

Shrum maintains his “stick with it” mantra when he issues advice to Future Sailors about their upcoming basic training, “Stick with it,” he said, “It may seem to be the hardest thing you do in your life, it is not."

This concept is true in Shrum’s professional and personal life. With his son well into high school and his wife’s health improving he says, “Family life is good right now.”

Shrum has always experienced a great deal of support from his family in some of the hardest times in his career. He compares his current duty to shipboard deployments.

“The support system is a big factor in being able to be successful or not. Whether you’re are in the fleet or you’re recruiting,” said Shrum.
Shrum does note the differences in success and how to achieve it in recruiting.

“When you come from the fleet to recruiting duty you’re more or less on your own to be successful,” said Shrum. “In the fleet you are always working around other Sailors and leadership you have constant guidance. Where as in recruiting you have leadership, but you need the ability to drive yourself at all times.”

“Having my own drive to be successful in recruiting is the reason why I became a Navy counselor,” Shrum said about his personal success.

Shrum has proven whether faced with personal hardship or professional challenges, if a Sailor adheres to the “stick with it” mantra and maintain their own personal drive, everyone is capable of success.

NTAG Nashville is one of eight NTAGs nationwide. More than 100,000 square miles are assigned to NTAG Nashville including counties in Tennessee, Arkansas, northern Alabama, northern Georgia, northern Mississippi, southern Kentucky and Southwestern Virginia.

Navy Recruiting Command consists of a command headquarters, three Navy Recruiting Regions, 18 Navy Recruiting Districts and eight Navy Talent Acquisition Groups that serve more than 1,330 recruiting stations across the world. Their combined goal is to attract the highest quality candidates to assure the ongoing success of America’s Navy.



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Updated March 1, 2017 (kbh)