On his first visit to Redstone Arsenal, Gen. Paul Funk viewed a strong reminder of the reason he joined the Army in the first place – its people.
Funk, the 17th commander of the Training and Doctrine Command, was at Redstone Arsenal on July 1 for a series of leadership meetings that started at Army Materiel Command headquarters and ended at the 2nd Recruiting Brigade.
Stopping for a media interview, the first thing he saw in the meeting room was the Hall of Fame recognition wall, and he had to check it out first. He stood there with other Army leaders, making positive comments about those names on the wall he knows from his 30-plus years of service.
His focus on the outstanding accomplishments of fellow Soldiers showed that the general is a man whose actions reflect the words of his Army story that he shares when recruiting young Soldiers. His visit fell on the second official day of Army National Hiring Days, held June 30-July 2. It was the Army’s first nationwide virtual hiring campaign to recruit 10,000 new Soldiers, and the general was confident of the campaign’s success.
“It will take longer than three days because we’re a big bureaucracy, and we can’t process all of the paperwork that fast,” Funk said. “Our goal of 10,000 is achievable, and this effort will carry over into next week, into next month and even into next year because that’s how great an opportunity the Army really is.”
Funk is a four-star general responsible for 32 Army schools that recruit, train and educate more than 750,000 Soldiers and service members each year.
He is also quick to share his personal Army story to recruit new Soldiers, starting with, “My name is Funk, and I’m an American Soldier.”
He was born at Fort Hood, Texas.
“I saw my dad fly a Cobra helicopter getting ready to go to Vietnam when I was a young guy, and I thought that was the coolest thing in the history of cool,” Funk said. “As I grew up and was in high school, I got to spend some time with my dad in the field. He was an armored tank battalion commander at Fort Knox, Kentucky. … I saw the interactions he had … I got to see what an incredible team it was and how teamwork played such a big part in this organization, and that’s what drew me to it.”
Funk grew up playing team sports and already understood the importance of teamwork.
“I wanted to be on the greatest team on Earth, and that’s what we’ve got with the United States Army,” he said.
The Army, he added, is not for the faint of heart.
“This is not a job for people looking for something easy to do,” Funk said. “This is about a commitment to others and selfless service.”
Funk stays connected by asking two questions of young Soldiers and by doing what he calls “trying to catch them doing things right.”
“I give them a coin, and I ask them, why did you join our great Army, and why do you continue to serve?”
The responses to the first question range from patriotism, education or healthcare benefits, to the Army being the “family” business or a way to get out of troubling circumstances.
“The answer to the second question, almost invariably,” Funk said, “it is because of the people they serve with. … The Army is a people business, and it is the people who make the Army.”
Back to love of team sports and teamwork, Funk also likes to refer to the uniform as the Army’s jersey.
“I have a saying that you should leave your jersey in a better place every day,” he said. “This is the jersey of the United States of America, and we have to leave that jersey in a better place every day – and I challenge the kids with that.”
There are 150 occupations for Soldiers in the Army. Recruiters will help new candidates create an individualized service path. With the Integrated Personnel and Pay System-Army, Soldiers can now move seamlessly between active duty, reserves and guard throughout their career.
“As someone who started out as an Army cavalryman, I never thought I’d be excited about a personnel system, but I’m excited about this,” Funk said. “It’s a great time to be in the Army.
“Don’t sit on the couch and watch history. Come make it with us.”