The Recruit Sustainment Program was designed by the Missouri National Guard to help new soldiers get rid of those first-time jitters. The program was implemented to help new Guard members get used to the military way of life.
"RSP gets the men and women in the program in the state of mind of being soldiers," said Dustin Stepp, cadre staff member who helps instruct the new soldiers. "It helps them in their physical fitness scores and gives them an overview of basic training and the Army's chain of command. Because of this preparation, they have a big advantage over other Soldiers as they enter basic training. They know what to expect."
The program, which is solely used by the Guard, divides the state of Missouri into several different regions. Area 5, called the "Echo Eagles," is run by RSP Coordinator Staff Sgt. Rodney Sebaugh. Echo Eagles Company encompasses the entire southeast part of the state and meets for a weekend drill once a month, like regular Guard members.
"The soldiers in this area are learning things that will lay the foundation for their military careers," said Sebaugh. "RSP provides them with information that ensures their success in basic training and beyond."
New soldiers in the Guard join for a variety of reasons, but each soldier has high hopes for their future once they are enlisted. John Orrick of Ironton is no exception. At his first drill, Orrick said that the Guard has already been a great experience for him.
"I joined the National Guard because of patriotism and a desire for training for the future," said Orrick. "So far, the Guard has been a great experience.
All of my friends, family and my entire home town look up to me now and thank me for joining to protect them."
Joseph Sash of Eldon also attended his first drill in August. He said that he joined the National Guard because of his sense of patriotism and desire for training and adventure.
"I hope to get as much schooling as possible, and I hope to see as many places as possible in the Guard," said Sash.
The opportunity for training came right away for the soldiers attending the drill. Immediately after signing in, they were placed in formation. Soldiers who had attended previous drill instructed the new soldiers (Red Phase) on proper stance and movements in formation. They then began a physical fitness assessment that included sit-ups, pushups and running a mile.
The Red Phase Soldiers were then placed in a classroom to learn about Army values and for an overview of the Missouri National Guard. The other soldiers proceeded to train in contact and evaluation of casualty exercises.
The weekend starts out with apprehensions and doubts for some of the new soldiers. With the Recruit Sustainment Program, the goal is to get those worries taken care of before the soldiers are sent to basic training.
"I'm really nervous and scared," said Leandra Melder, of Bragg City, at the beginning of her first drill.
Melder, who attends basic training just two weeks after the RSP drill in Cape Girardeau, expressed her gratitude for the program when she was done. Melder will be with the 1221st Transportation Company located in Dexter upon completion of her basic training and advanced individual training.
"I'm real sore," said Melder after the weekend. "But, I think all of the training from the Recruit Sustainment Program helps. I'm still nervous about basic, but I definitely think it helps get you to get ready and helps you to know what challenges you're going to face at basic."
To learn more about the Recruit Sustainment Program and the Missouri National Guard, call 1-888-Go-Guard or visit www.moguard.com .