Stafford brings diverse skill, to Guard recruiting program
By M. QUEISER
Staff Sgt. James Stafford wants to be more than just the local Missouri Army National Guard recruiter; he wants to be a positive influence to the area.
"This sounds kind of cheesy, but I follow the 'it takes a village to raise a child concept'," said Stafford. "I want the young people in my area to know I'm someone they can come and talk to, whether they're going to join or not."
Stafford grew up in Poplar Bluff and graduated from Poplar Bluff Senior High School in 1994.
He joined the active Army in 1994, earned his college degree in 2000 from Hawaii Pacific University, and joined the U.S. Reserves in 2000.
In 2003, he ended his military service, but several months later decided to reenlist and this time with the Missouri National Guard.
"What brought me back was the camaraderie," said Stafford. "I missed the brotherhood of serving our country and being in uniform."
He rediscovered that in the Missouri National Guard, where soldiers take care of each other whether it's guard, work or personal, said Stafford.
More importantly he hopes new soldiers get the same feeling.
"I like the thought of being able to pass that down to new soldiers who come in," he said.
In 2007, he became a recruiter, and his diverse military experience helps new applicants, said Stafford.
"I have the opportunity to tell both sides, active versus guard," he said. "I can give the pros and cons for both, and I know it's about the right fit for that person."
Additionally, because he's from Southeast Missouri, he knows the area and the people.
"I grew up in this area, I'm from here," said Stafford. "I went and got an education, a career and returned to give back to my community. I want to show people they can do that too."
The most rewarding aspect about his job is seeing his applicants make positive decisions.
"The best part about being a guard recruiter is helping people go to college, figuring their life out, and watching them grow into successful citizens and soldiers," he said.
Stafford is supported in his military career by his son Caleb, 9, and daughter, Abby, 7.
He is a Missouri National Guard recruiter for the Poplar Bluff, Ellsinore, Qulin, Fisk, Doniphan, Neelyville, Van Buren, Piedmont and Greenville areas.
For information about the Missouri National Guard, contact Stafford at 573-300-6083.