Military Recruitment on the Rise

November 19, 2008 12:33:01 AM PST
A new Pentagon survey shows the number of young people considering joining the military has increased for the first time in five years and both politics and money are driving this trend. The struggling economy is one reason potential recruits are trying to sign up. Army Recruiting Sgt. Vashti Torres in Clovis says:" A lot of times I hear it's hard to find jobs around here. And we can help out with that."

All the armed forces offer the lure of a start, and possibly a career.

Crystal Petersen of Clovis says she's eager to join the Navy."I have a lot of friends in the Navy, and they told me it's a great place to work." She said.

The financial and educational incentives are a big draw.

New Army Recruit Michael Simpson of Clovis explains why he just joined: "Having a job, you know being secure. They're paying for college so I said, why not."

The Army is advertising a 40 thousand dollar enlistment bonus and 65 thousand for college.

Lt. Col. Richard Ellis heads the Army's recruiting battalion based in Fresno. He says, "People do join due to the bonus, there's no doubt about that I mean folks will come in, 40 thousand dollars is 40 thousand dollars."

And if you're willing to ship out in two weeks, get high test scores and qualify for the right job, recruits can get another 20 thousand. Powerful incentives, even though Ellis readily acknowledges the risks are extreme. "There is no guarantee you won't go to combat, there is no guarantee you won't go to Iraq or Afghanistan." He said."

Barack Obama's election win may also be a factor. The president-elect has called for a large scale u-s withdrawal from Iraq within 16 months.

The military has found the Central Valley a good place to find recruits. The Recruiting Battalion based in Fresno covers the state from the Bay Area to LA, but most of the 15 hundred or so men and women who signed up in the past year came from Fresno and Bakersfield. Both areas have some of the highest unemployment rates in the state.

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