Story by Gregory White, Navy Recruiting District Raleigh Public Affairs
RALEIGH, N.C. (NNS) – The old saying “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” rings true for Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Tameka Butcher, a prior service recruiter for the Navy reserve component at Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Raleigh.
Butcher grew up a military child. The youngest of four, she was born in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, but moved around often as a kid because her father served as a cook in the U.S. Army.
“I remember being about nine-years-old and cooking with my father in the kitchen,” said Butcher. “One time I got in trouble as a child, and had to take a nap. When I woke up everyone had eaten. I asked where my food was. It was in the refrigerator uncooked. My father made me cook it myself. He said, if I hadn’t done wrong, I would’ve been able to eat a nice, hot, cooked meal with everyone else.”
Butcher’s father taught her a number of valuable lessons and life skills as she was growing up. He taught her never to make a bet if she didn’t have anything to bet with. He also taught her how to iron a uniform and to dress sharp. To this day, Butcher appreciates her father’s teachings and hopes to make as big of an impact on her four children.
However, her impact reaches far beyond her family life. As a civilian Butcher was a pediatric nurse. She enjoyed the job and loves children, but felt called to do something different. She didn’t grow up thinking that one day she would be a cook in the military just like her father, but that’s exactly how things panned out for her.
Butcher and her children moved to North Carolina in 2010. She enlisted in the United States Navy Reserve in 2012 as a culinary specialist, which is equivalently a cook in the Navy.
“I really do enjoy cooking,” said Butcher. “I like to try new things and experiment with recreating dishes I see while adding my own twist.”
Butcher served in the capacity of ‘Navy cook” for about six years, but over the course of the past year she’s cooked up a new recipe for success as a recruiter.
“A friend told me about a CANREC (canvasser recruiter) program which allows a reservist to take active duty orders as a recruiter,” said Butcher. “I put in my package and now I’m here. I’ve been recruiting for about a year now.”
Humble in nature, Butcher was hesitant to talk about the fact she was recently named NRD Raleigh’s Reserve Component Recruiter of the Year.
“I just show up and do my job,” she said.
Navy Career Counselor 1st Class Bardrick Harris, of NRD Raleigh’s training department, believes it’s more than that.
“I worked with Butcher for several months when she first became a recruiter,” said Harris. “She worked hard and picked things up very quickly, which ultimately led to her earning a commendation in her first year. As a recruiter, that accomplishment is not an easy thing to do. She’s a tough cookie.”
Butcher credits her success as a recruiter to her commitment to taking care of the little things.
“Every morning I get up and fix my kids breakfast,” said Butcher. “Then I hit the gym. During the day I visit the VA [Veteran’s Administration] sometimes and the unemployment office. Remember, I’m a prior service recruiter. The people I’m looking for are already experienced with the Navy or at least the military. So I don’t have to sell them on it. I just need to look the part.”
Butcher doesn’t just visit the gym for a morning workout. She goes after work as well. She also regularly schedules appointments at her favorite salon.
“If I don’t take care of myself, who will,” asked Butcher. “And how is anyone going to believe I can take care of them? My motto is ‘if you look good, you’ll feel good, and you’ll do good.”
Navy Recruiting Command consists of a command headquarters, three Navy Recruiting Regions, 16 Navy Recruiting Districts and 10 NTAGS that serve more than 1,300 recruiting stations across the world. Their combined goal is to attract the highest quality candidates to assure the ongoing success of America’s Navy.
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