Brig. Gen. Ralph Hedenburg presents an award to Connecticut's Recruit Sustainment Program.
Brig. Gen. Ralph Hedenberg, Director of the CTNG's Joint Staff, left, presents an award to Connecticut's Recruit Sustainment Program for being recognized as the Top Small State RSP in the nation, at a local ceremony at Camp Niantic, Conn., Feb. 24. (Photo by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Christopher McCarty, 6th Recruiting and Retention Battalion, CTARNG)

During the Director’s Strength Maintenance Awards Ceremony, in Potomac, Maryland, the Connecticut Army National Guard’s Recruit Sustainment Program was recognized as the top small-state program in the nation, Jan. 30, 2019.

Receiving the award on behalf of the Connecticut National Guard were Lt. Col. Alan Gilman and Command Sgt. Maj. Glen Hein, the command team assigned to Connecticut Army National Guard’s 6th Recruiting and Retention Battalion.

With an RSP that averages a throughput of approximately 600 Soldiers per year, according to 1st Lt. Stephen Sanabria, Officer in Charge of the Connecticut Army National Guard’s Recruit Sustainment Program, the RSP team has to be on top of its game at all times.

“We are extremely proud that the hard work of our team has led to recognition at the national level,” Sanabria said. “The Recruit Sustainment Program is really the enlistee’s first exposure to the Connecticut National Guard, and it is on us to set them along the right path before not only initial entry training, but before they head off to their first drill.”

Although assigned to a unit when a Soldier first enlists, they do not immediately begin to train with that unit. Drills prior to shipping to basic training are conducted with the RSP staff at Camp Nett at Niantic.

“Having Soldiers drill here helps give the state a leg up on any administrative issues that may come to light,” Sanabria said. “Over the last year our contractors, Mr. Buyile Rani and Ms. Monique Colbert, alongside our human resource section, Staff Sgt. William Rosario and Spc. Kristy Gallant, identified these issues, like pay, and tackled them early on.

“Their hard work ensured that when it comes time to officially transfer the Soldier to his or her unit, they are battle ready in every sense of the word.”

RSP doesn’t just take care of the paperwork, but helps acclimate the enlistee for life in basic training. RSP Drill Sergeants Sgt. 1st Class David Rodriguez and Staff Sgt. Randall Gowdy instruct the Guard’s newest members on everything from drill and ceremony to a physical fitness regimen that will set them up for success.

The program also works closely with the state’s logistics channels to ensure Soldiers are issued the necessary uniforms and equipment, lessening the burden on a unit Supply NCO when a Soldier first reports.

“Staff Sgt. Jose Irizarry, our RSP Supply NCO, helped provide the Soldier his or her basic issue prior to completion of the RSP program and consequently lighten the already-heavy load on the unit Supply NCO,” Sanabria said. “Supply NCOs already have enough to focus on to keep the day-to-day operations of a unit.”

In order to highlight the RSP’s award locally, Brig. Gen. Ralph Hedenberg, Director of the Connecticut National Guard’s Joint Staff, presented the trophy to RSP Staff during the Feb. 24 Battle Handoff Ceremony at Camp Niantic’s Nett Hall.

“We were honored to have Brig. Gen. Hedenberg present the trophy in front of the RSP staff and Connecticut newest Soldiers,”

Sanabria said. “It is a good day anytime you can recognize deserving troops for their hard work. I strongly want to recognize Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael Mottolo, who truly deserves the credit for Connecticut’s success. He was the previous Officer in Charge who ran the program last year alongside Sgt. 1st Class Yohance Martin, our current Noncommissioned Officer in Charge.”