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Annual Operation Recruit Enlistment Dinner

The annual Operation Recruit Enlistment Dinner, or OP RED, was held at the Saint Martin’s University Marcus Pavilion in Lacey May 4, with approximately 250 high school recruits stating their Oath of Enlistment. Photo credit: Facebook

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Stories about military drawdowns might be popular in many recent news cycles, but the number of youth enlistees continues to grow in the Puget Sound area.

Six years ago, John Faust, the then Seattle Army Recruiting Tacoma Company commander, asked four people to join him in creating an event designed to honor senior high school students who have already committed to joining the Armed Forces.

Emmett Brost of Little Caesars Pizza, Ron Chow of Seattle Pacific Trading, Paul Wood, retired Army, and Carlene Joseph of Harborstone Credit Union, formed together to create the event, Operation Recruit Enlistment Dinner (or OP RED) to accomplish Faust's mission request.

The sixth year for the OP RED ceremony held its biggest year to date, with approximately 250 recruits swearing in and close to 1,000 people total in attendance.

"During OP RED, the community gathers together to honor new recruits (mostly senior high school students) who have joined the Armed Forces," said Joseph.

Joseph remains a staple within the Puget Sound community for her constant military support and seemingly unlimited collaboration for several military supporting events throughout the year.

Her involvement in OP RED has basically become standard at this point, but her involvement this year was mandatory for a very different reason than just supporting this nation's newest recruits.

This event was even more meaningful for the community with Carlene Joseph being sworn in as the new AUSA Washington State President.

"The primary objectives for the Washington State president role is to support the two local chapters: The Captain Meriwether Lewis (Pierce County) and the SFC Kenzo Nakamura Chapter (Seattle)," said Joseph.  "I also support the AUSA National and the Sixth Region President when the need arises, for other duties as assigned."

This might sound like even more duties to add to one of the military community's busiest woman, but she isn't worried at all.

"My role is at a much lesser scale compared to my six-year role as president for the Captain Meriwether Lewis Chapter, when we created all of the subchapters and were very challenged to keep them alive and thriving."

Carlene hopes to spread the Army's story by working with the community through her work with OP RED and as the co-chairman of the Washington State Army Community Council, an organization designed to remove roadblocks for military recruiters in the different local communities.

Joseph might still be new to wearing the AUSA President hat, but didn't waste any time sharing some educational words of advice to the 250 new recruits.

"Take advantage of the training, family resources, educational opportunities in front of you, and consider making the military a career," said Joseph.  "When you retire, you'll still be young enough to use the skills or education you acquired to start your second career."

Although Carlene has been involved with OP RED for several years, she still draws inspiration from the community event every year.

"The inspirational part of all of this is witnessing first-hand how proud their family members are of their decision to join," said Joseph.  "During the Oath of Enlistment, it's not uncommon for family members to cry because they find the ceremony heartwarming."

The commitment to serve must come from within, but the Puget Sound community can take solace together, with the fact that, as the amount of military coming from this region continues to grow, so does the support.

"Each year, the event gets bigger and better," said Joseph. "Today, Emmett Brost, John Faust, Ron Chow and I are still with OP RED and together we will continue coordinating this community event with goals of eventually bringing the event to Seattle, too!"

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