Economy boosts recruitment numbers
June 24, 2009
- As of May 22, the Army has exceeded its year-to-date recruitment goals.
- Officials say some are enlisting because they are finding options with the Army not available in the civilian environment.
FORT JACKSON, S.C. (Army News Service, June 24, 2009) -- The economy and related factors have buoyed the Army's recruitment efforts for 2009, say officials with U.S. Army Recruiting Command and the 120th Adjutant General Battalion (Reception).
"We're running ahead of our goal in active and Reserve duty (recruits)," said Douglas Smith, spokesman for USAREC, based at Fort Knox, Ky.
Smith said that as of May 22, the Army had exceeded its year-to-date recruitment goals. Before summer officially started, the Army had bested its 2008 active-duty rolls by more than 1,800, enlisting 42,357. And its Reserve enlistments totaled 19,554 - a jump of 2,464 from a year ago.
Fort Jackson, the Army's largest Initial Entry Training installation, trains more than 40,000 new Soldiers each year.
The bulk of those Soldiers are processed during late May through the end of September, which is commonly referred to as the "summer surge," said James Allen, chief of Fort Jackson's Initial Receiving Branch at the Reception Battalion.
However, this year it seems the bulk of the Army's recruits will have been processed before Memorial Day. Officials say this is not surprising, especially when our nation's unemployment rate hovers near 10 percent - its highest in decades. Major industries are having severe contractions, and the economy is in an intense upheaval.
"When I talk to Soldiers, they mention (having) a job, education and wanting to do something more" as their reasons for joining, Allen said.
USAREC's Smith agrees that the economy is playing an important role in the influx of enlistees.
"Anecdotally, we're (also) hearing people are enlisting because of a loss of jobs ... and they are finding options with the Army that they aren't seeing in the civilian environment," Allen said. "There is skilled training in 150 job series, good pay and housing ...."
Capt. Susan Soderberg - commanding officer for Company E, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Battalion -- said there are so many new recruits that there is a "big backlog." Company E, made up of reservists, has been activated every summer to assist with the training of new recruits.
Soderberg said that as of May, each of the battalion's six training companies had 231 new recruits. The maximum per company is 240.
"Every time the economy gets shaky, people tend to go into the services -- jobs which they see as secure," she said.
Besides job security, Company E 1st Sgt. Karl Rivers said he has also seen a renewed sense of patriotism among new recruits.
"They really want to be supportive of the American people," he said.
In addition, Rivers wants the new Soldiers' families to know that their sons and daughters are in good hands.
"We're training them how to survive. Go out there, fight, come back home and live a normal life," Rivers said.