MILITARY MATTERS: Soldier Recruitment at Lowest Rate in Five Decades
COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The military has to meet a certain recruitment goal to maintain its reach around the globe but so far, this year’s rate is the lowest since troops returned home from Vietnam in 1973.
“Service means being proud of our country. In my case, it’s just proud to serve,” CSM Luis Irizarry said.
Over the past 27 years, he’s earned his stripes as an Army Command Sergeant Major, now serving at the Richmond VA recruiting battalion center. And he’s facing a new battle these days - finding enough soldiers.
“It is very alarming to us but it is not much of a surprise because even after covid with the shutdowns, lockdowns, restrictions we were limited. we had limited access to the population,” CSM Irizarry said.
Pre-Covid, recruiters would spend most of their time at community events and high schools. Now they’re challenged with making their way back. Irizarry says competitive entry level jobs are making it even harder for them.
“That’s probably why many of the parents guide their children to go through the civilian market first but if that’s the case we also have the army reserve,” CSM Irizarry said.
A new poll finds 57% of young Americans think they would have psychological or physical harm if they enlisted. Obesity, criminal history and health issues are issue that are also shrinking the eligibility pool. At last check, the Army has only met about 40% of this year’s recruitment goal. the solution Irizarry says is in our community and school districts.
“Getting out there to the community and once again getting back into recruiting post-covid and ensuring that our message is out. that we’re increasing that face to face or in-person prospecting as well as social media,” CSM Irizarry said.
The Army is now offering bonuses for $50,000 for recruits who enlist for six years.
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