Col. James Welch heads up the Army’s top recruiting brigade, the 2nd Recruiting Brigade.
Col. James Welch heads up the Army’s top recruiting brigade, the 2nd Recruiting Brigade. (Photo Credit: Army Photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

If you’ve got military experience, Uncle Sam wants you!

But, before you hurry and get your fatigues and gear out of the attic, we’re talking recruiting.

You see, on the heels of Army Service Week, Col. James Welch, commander of the 2nd Recruiting Brigade, is “recruiting” retirees and others who have served to share their experience in the Army.

“(We want to) connect with the community and get folks to tell their stories,” Welch said. “We want to talk with the leaders out there – business, community and school – to help us offer what we have for young people.

“It’s pretty powerful when you have people tell their stories.”

The 2nd Brigade has been the Army’s No. 1 recruiting brigade for several years running but, like just about everything else recently, saw a slowdown because of COVID. Recruiters could no longer visit homes, schools or universities due to the pandemic.

“When COVID hit, we shut down (the visits),” Welch said. “That’s where our noncommissioned officers meet young people.

“We’re still kind of paying for that.”

Welch said he’s proud of the NCOs for maximizing their efforts to bring young people into the Army.

“They have the most important job in the Army,” he said. “Without the recruits, we don’t have Soldiers.”

To help recruiting, the Army has offered incentives of signing bonuses and choice of assignments. In January, the Army announced an all-time-high bonus maximum of $50,000 for certain critical occupations. The service has also worked to provide predictability by giving thousands of recruits the ability to select their first duty station, including popular locations such as Hawaii, Colorado and Germany. Another incentive is a two-year enlistment, which offers an option for individuals who aren’t prepared to make a long-term commitment of four or six years right away.

“The incentives are amazing,” Welch said. “Young people can get both – a bonus and choice of assignment. They also have a two-year option with two years in the Reserves.

“There are challenges with the labor market but the incentives help level the playing field with recruiters.”

Welch said the 2nd Brigade covers the Southeast and has eight battalions, “each has their own nuance.”

“Our big push has been to get to the colleges and universities,” he said. “We’re focused on casting a wider net.”

Welch said there are about 150 jobs available in the Army – “Not everyone needs to be in the infantry.”

Along with the combat-related infantry and Special Forces roles, careers range from positions in information technology to medicine. The Army provides training and education to ensure each Soldier is successful in their chosen career field and more marketable when they transition out of the service.

Another program, Welch said, is the Partnership for Youth Success or PAYS.

“Companies sign a partnership with the Army,” he said. “A recruit signs with that company and they will be guaranteed an interview with that company after serving.”

Army Service Week highlighted information about current vacancies and the key benefits of service, including technical training, 30 days of paid vacation, health care, money for college classes and certifications, and family support programs.

“That’s why I love this job,” Welch said. “Being able to go out and talk to the young people.”