By Army Sgt. Zoe Morris
| West Virginia National Guard | Nov. 21, 2018
West Virginia Army National Guard (WVARNG) recruiter Staff Sgt. Lynda Tulanowski stands with her son, Aaron, during his graduation from Basic Combat Training nine years ago.
Tulanowski joined the WVARNG specifically to recruit, with the goal of being her son's recruiter when he enlisted. Aaron joined at age 17 and they both currently work full-time for the WVARNG. (Photo by Sgt. Zoe Morris)
West Virginia Army National Guard (WVARNG) recruiter Staff Sgt. Lynda Tulanowski's daughter stands atop a WVARNG vehicle during a family day. Tulanowski recently moved back to West Virginia and took up her old position in the Recruiting and Retention Battalion. (Photo by Sgt. Zoe Morris)
West Virginia Army National Guard (WVARNG) recruiter Staff Sgt. Lynda Tulanowski is a study in the passion and dedication it takes to be successful.
Eleven years ago, a chance cold-call by a recruiter lead Tulanowski, a prior-service Soldier and small business owner, to evaluate her life and what she wanted for the future of her family.
"My marriage was failing fast and the business was so hard to hold up with all of its overhead that it was crushing - a recruiter stepping into our lives was the game changer," Tulanowski said. "I did not want my kids facing what my mother and I faced, so a decision had to be made. I decided that I would go into the WVARNG and give it everything I had to get where I needed to be."
Tulanowski, the daughter of two active-duty Marines from West Virginia, decided she was not only going to rejoin the service, she was going to be her son Arthur's recruiter when the time came. He talked about being a Soldier for years and Tulanowski knew that she wanted to be there if he decided to go for that career.
"My son signed paperwork on his 17th birthday," Tulanowski said. Arthur Tulanowski was honor graduate and top in weapons and physical training scores in basic combat training and advanced individual training. He is currently works full-time with the WVARNG’s 150th Cavalry Regiment and is approaching his first deployment.
Tulanowski said when thinking back to her decisions to join the WVARNG, she is proud of her choice and is grateful to where it has led her life.
"Destiny took over and here I am, 11 years and three states later, empowering lives in all corners of the world at this point," she said. "How powerfully blessed can one person be to be able to lift lives everywhere they go?"
Destiny was helped along, however, by Tulanowski’s hard work and determination.
Tulanowski was one of the state's top recruiters, earning her recruiting expert badge in 2009 then her master badge in 2010. She took a break for a deployment and to work on her medical degree, then moved to Florida where she was cadre at the Florida Youth ChalleNGe, giving her a view into the lives and experiences of at-risk youth.
While in Florida, she served in the Georgia Army National Guard's 1230th Transportation Company as platoon sergeant and sometimes acting first sergeant.
"Things have a way of working out if we just allow life to happen," said Tulanowski. "This was the most challenging but effective time of my career. This was exactly what I needed - time with Soldiers doing actual field training every drill."
Tulanowski was recognized with a State Command Sergeant Major Award for Excellence for bringing the 1230th together by improving all physical training test scores (some by personally training them), focusing Soldiers on college, improving attendance and retention numbers, and keeping the unit on top of medical and administrative requirements.
"That was all possible due to an incredible group of [non-commissioned officers] already in place and my love of what I do," she said. "That motivation is contagious. I learned a lot but missed R&R."
After a short stint training recruiters in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, Tulanowski was called by WVARNG leadership and asked to return home and recruit for West Virginia.
"I decided they were right, it was time to come home," she said. "Nothing but good things will come now because I am here to empower lives, improve my home area and to make a statement by getting the top recruiter spot, without losing myself in the process."
She insisted that she’s always ready to assist.
“Most will struggle to qualify and some will not qualify to be a part of our great organization, but I am able to empower all lives no matter if it is with civilian employment, educational ideas, or even personal fitness. I can be a voice for all," she said.