An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.



News | Feb. 29, 2024

Soldier develops referral ribbon initiative to help Army meet recruiting goals

By Lauren Reho USAREC Public Affairs

Soldiers Army-wide earn rewards and recognition for referring new recruits – thanks to the personal mission of one of their own.

The mastermind behind the U.S. Army Recruiting Ribbon, Master Sgt. Andra Bellamy of the Cleveland Recruiting Battalion Operations, said this initiative was a crucial step in the Soldier Referral Program.

According to Bellamy, it was multiple Army experiences that led to the referral ribbon concept.

“This ribbon and the Army theme of ‘Be All You Can Be’ are the story of my life,” Bellamy said. “I proposed this idea in 2019, and I didn’t stop pushing for it because I knew the significant impact it could have for the entire Army.”

The concept of the original recruiting referral initiative required three referrals to enlist and ship to basic training for Soldiers, whether officer or enlisted, to earn the recruiting ribbon. Soldiers would then send their referrals to the U.S. Army Recruiting Command Virtual Recruiting Company to be vetted and redistributed to a local recruiting station.

Bellamy’s original design featured 12 stars plus the awarded star to symbolize the 13 Colonies. The center stripes adopted the Army colors, while the outer stripes mirrored the colors of the U.S. flag. Bellamy also developed a unique three level achievement concept: Bronze, Silver and Gold Star. The Bronze Star device required three referrals to enlist and ship, the Silver Star device required five and the Gold Star device required seven.

Bellamy sent this concept to numerous connections who could give it traction, including Master Sgt. Michael Harter of the Jacksonville Recruiting Battalion, who “briefed the slides at every level and worked with the U.S. Army Recruiting Command to keep moving forward,” Harter said. One leader in the briefing room commented, “I wish I had thought of this idea.” The collaboration behind this ribbon and its relation to the SRP are continuously paving the way for the growth of the Army.

Over time, the recruiting ribbon design transitioned into a classic red, white and blue striped pattern. Harter emphasized the ribbon reflects Uncle Sam to inspire an unforgettable call to action for Soldiers.

“The SRP creates new leaders across ranks,” Bellamy said, “and also helps recruit our future leaders.”

Bellamy said as an extension of the SRP, the ribbon aims to both recognize Soldiers for their immediate contributions to recruiting and also have a more lasting effect.

“Every Soldier in the Army can participate if they want to,” Bellamy said. “It transforms recruiting efforts from just USAREC to the entire Army.”

According to Bellamy’s Army-wide Recruiting Initiative in 2021, he estimated if 3% of 500,000 Soldiers earned the ribbon, it would add 15,000 Soldiers to the ranks. Furthermore, if each of those Soldiers recruited individuals too, the effects would be evident throughout the Army for years to come.

Bellamy said the referral ribbon is especially beneficial to the USAREC mission because it would impose minimal cost to maintain once established, and it has the potential to reduce manpower. He explained because all referrals are generated directly from Soldiers, it helps pinpoint top candidates for recruiting duty.

Established in January 2023, the SRP with the new referral ribbon design provides incentives to Soldiers who refer one individual through the SRP that enlists and ships to basic training. Offers include promotion opportunities for junior enlisted, promotion points for specialists and sergeants, as well as earn a referral ribbon with up to four awards for their contribution in support of USAREC.

Both Bellamy and Harter received Meritorious Service Medals for their dedication to the creation of the U.S. Army Recruiting Ribbon and their instrumental role in the success of the SRP. Bellamy said he’s honored his ribbon has had such an impact on the Army’s recruiting efforts.

“Recruiting is difficult because one cannot use their rank or position to change someone’s mind or opinion in the civilian sector; they must be led,” Bellamy said. “The only way to be a successful recruiter is to be a successful leader.”



All Entries