By Jay Field
Los Angeles District
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District joined the U.S. Army's Los Angeles Recruiting Battalion to celebrate the grand opening of its newest recruiting station here June 20.
Nearly two dozen future Soldiers stood in formation as their families, friends, local dignitaries and veterans looked on.
It was as much about these future Soldiers as it was about the grand opening of the station where many like them would be recruited.
"These young men and women have joined during time of war," said Lt. Col. Robert Blankenship, commander of the L.A. Recruiting Battalion, reflecting on his own enlistment in 1983 when the country was not at war. "We've been in persistent conflict now for over ten years; that's beyond impressive."
In his remarks, Col. Mark Toy, commander of the Los Angeles District, said it has gotten a lot tougher to complete projects like these, because military organizations have less money to work with.
"Even in times of dwindling resources, it doesn't mean you stop bringing in great people," Toy said. "And that's why it's even more important to have facilities like this, so that you can bring in the top people."
Toy then addressed the recruits, sharing four thoughts on leadership as they prepared to embark on their military service. First, he told them to have passion for what they do.
"It's been this love of Soldiers of mine and the passion for my job that has kept me in," Toy said. "And we want you to discover that same passion."
He then urged them to find a mentor.
"These great recruiters who are here, your family, your friends, who know what right looks like, who have had the same personal and professional aspirations that you might have; seek out that mentor and seek out that person to help you find yourself along the way."
Toy next told them to have continued learning, noting that the Army, different from the private sector, prepares its Soldiers for jobs with increasing responsibility.
Lastly, he told the recruits that they would be leaders some day and that their number one responsibility would be taking care of Soldiers.
"Take care of Soldiers and cultivate the relationships that you're going to develop while you're in the Army."
The Army's Simi Valley station is the 17th of 19 "Pinnacle" concept centers planned for the West Coast, according to Blankenship. The battalion has nearly completed the transition that started two years ago.
"Army Recruiting Command decided that we would be much better served if we consolidated our resources a little bit," said Blankenship. "We went from 36 structures and facilities across the same footprint, now down to the 19 that we're about to settle into."
The concept modernizes recruiting processes and features interactive zones in the center to enhance a prospective recruit's experience. It also introduces a new structure to Army recruiting processes designed for greater efficiency, better work hours and a better quality of life for recruiters.
The 6,000 square foot career center includes facilities for all four services, with the Army getting the most space to accommodate its Pinnacle design, according to Corps realty specialists.
Each service has its own storefront, whereas in many locations they're co-located with a single entrance. For cost savings, they share a common area behind.
The Los Angeles District manages more than 250 recruiting station leases throughout Southern California, Arizona and Nevada, as part of the Department of Defense Recruiting Facilities Program. The leases are valued at more than $30 million and cover nearly 650,000 square feet of space, roughly three-fourths the size of the Los Angeles Convention Center.