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CAEL Pathways Blog

Recruiters Helping Recruiters: How Black Hawk College Is Already Welcoming Future Veterans

In February, CAEL formed an Illinois-based workgroup to pilot its newest community of practice, dedicated to supporting military-connected learners. Like all the partnerships CAEL builds, the community of practice is designed to benefit its members through the exploration and exchange of best practices honed by diverse experiences with similar challenges and opportunities. 

Members have shared multiple examples of successful strategies regarding their support of military-connected learners. CAEL will be profiling them in a series of blogs to offer insights for its members (and future members!) on how institutions and their stakeholders can provide well-tailored resources to this unique and critical subpopulation of adult learners.

The first in this series highlights the work of Black Hawk College (BHC.) Thomas Reagan, coordinator of veterans services, presented to the workgroup about a proactive “recruit the recruiters” approach he uses to engage local Army recruiters. He explained how working with the recruiters (and the enlistees) helps the college promote its academic and support programs to encourage servicemembers to enroll at BHC after their enlistment is completed. 

To help build the partnership, Reagan initially invited the Army recruiters to use the college’s facility for their Delayed Entry Program. The Delayed Entry Program, also known as the Future Soldier Program, offers recruits flexibility between their commitment to enlist and their departure for basic training. 

“To prepare the recruits for basic training, the recruiters meet with them monthly, review basic army lessons, and conduct physical fitness training,” said Reagan. “I invited all the Army recruiters to our college for a lunch-and-learn. We provided a barbeque lunch and spoke about all the great things happening at BHC.”

A month after the initial meeting, the unit's first sergeant contacted Reagan to see if he could reserve a room at the college for some unit-wide training. The Army even involved non-military BHC students, who role-played as young people interested in enlisting.

“We provided the space, the students, and lunch for the recruiters,” said Reagan. “We were also given the opportunity to speak to all the recruiters about Black Hawk College. Our goal with this partnership is to support those young men and women while they go off to serve our nation, and when they are done, they use their veterans benefits at Black Hawk College.”

Reagan admitted his strategy won’t yield immediate results. But having a long-term vision is the point of being proactive. “BHC has been around since 1946; we will happily wait four years for them to complete their enlistment and then gladly welcome them to BHC.”

Black Hawk College, a CAEL institutional member, serves a nine-county region of northwestern Illinois. With campuses in Quad Cities and Galva, Illinois, the college maintains a suite of benefits for military-connected learners, including a veterans resource center and a credit for prior learning program.

Stay tuned for more success stories from CAEL’s military community of practice, and consider attending the CAEL annual conference to learn more. To learn more about becoming a CAEL member and joining a CAEL community of practice, please visit our member home page.  

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