'Be all you can be':
The military enjoys a boon in recruitment
By Howard Lisnoff
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Jan 9, 2009
Two disparate sectors of the economy in the U.S. are experiencing a
"boon" during the economic depression that has swept much of the
world. Businesses that repair items such as shoes, clothing, and
automobiles are enjoying a surge in customers. And so is the military!
Just four years ago the military fell short of monthly quotas for
enlistees. A booming economy, the unpopularity of the Iraq War, the
poor medical treatment that veterans received after serving in Iraq
and Afghanistan, and the scandals of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay
prisons were turning people away from military service. So-called
"moral waivers" were a mechanism used by the military to fill its
ranks with people who had a wide range of police and criminal records.
In "Military recruiters having no trouble filling quotas," (The
Florida Sun-Sentinel, December 20, 2008), a typical case is cited as
an example of how the economy has acted as an impetus for military
recruitment: "Working for low pay on the evening shift at a West Palm
Beach International House of Pancakes influenced Cheyenne DaSilva's
decision to enlist, even before the 17-year-old completes her senior
year at Forest Hill Community High School. DaSilva received an $8,000
signing bonus when she enlisted for three-and-a-half years. She chose
the military police as her specialty. 'It's something exciting, and a
guaranteed job,' DaSilva said."
An Army recruiter in Florida, Captain Robert Brown, interviewed for
the same article said, "There is no question that the economy and the
unemployment rate have been driving traffic into the recruiting
station. We put a mortgage broker in the Army the other day. These
are people looking for that stability, the paycheck and health benefits."
The article goes on to describe the plight of a financial advisor at
Bank of America who enlisted as a means of earning money to pay for a
mortgage after her finances turned sour in the malaise of the current
economy. The majority of recruits will find, however, upon leaving
the military, that most jobs in the military are not transferable to
the civilian economy.
And the new spurt in enlistments may come just in time for the
expansion of the war in Afghanistan that is in the works in the
incoming Obama administration.
"As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing
at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in
Afghanistan," Obama said in an op-ed published June 14, 2008, in The
New York Times, the day before he gave a speech in Florida on his
vision for Iraq and Afghanistan. (Obama campaign website)
Even in bad economic times with the potential for more recruits for
the so-called "good war" in Afghanistan, the military is leaving
nothing to chance. In "Urban Tool in Recruiting by the Army: An
Arcade," (The New York Times, January 4), an old recruitment method
with a modern twist is highlighted in an example of recruiting
techniques used in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: "At the Franklin Mills
mall here, past the Gap Outlet and the China Buddha Express, is a $13
million video arcade that the Army hopes will become a model for
recruitment in urban areas, where the armed services typically have a
hard time attracting recruits."
With these techniques and state of the economy, it is easy to see how
the Army surpassed its recruiting goal for the past fiscal year. It
recruited 80,517 people with a goal that it had set at 80,000.
With all the talk of hope and change of the election cycle just past,
it appears that foreign policy will continue to be conducted at the
end of the barrel of a gun. It will be business as usual. It's
difficult to counter arguments that the Taliban needs to be dealt
with through diplomacy with the reputation of the "good war" being
fought in Afghanistan accepted in many quarters of society in the
U.S. Afghanistan remains a country dominated by warlords, the
Taliban, and a profitable opium trade. Despite the accepted cant in
U.S. media outlets, women in Afghanistan have never been fully
accepted and integrated into its society, with great injustices still apparent.
What many recruits will discover upon reporting for military training
is that the military is a closed society whose sole purpose is to
strip the individual of all individuality and break down any
resistance to killing those who have been designated as "the enemy"
by the government. It happened in Vietnam and again in Iraq with
devastating results for both the civilian populations of both
countries and the servicemen and women who were sent to fight those
battles. Not much has changed!
Howard Lisnoff teaches writing and is a freelance writer. He was a
war resister during the Vietnam War. He can be reached at
More Seek Military Careers Due To Poor Job Market
Reported by: Jenell Walton
Last Update: 1/07/09
Some local recruiters say the poor economy has led some people to
take another look at a military career.
For some, it's the last resort because they can't find a job.
Some new enlistees are people who have been laid off from good paying
jobs, so they need to earn enough to support a family.
And the military is becoming a more attractive option.
The U.S. is fighting two wars, but that's not enough to deter some
people from enlisting in the military.
Recruiters say many are struggling to pay bills, so they're finding
more mature people at their doors.
"You have to join before your 35th birthday, if you don't have prior
service," said Sergeant Robert Williams, of the Ohio Air National
Guard. "I've got people that are 28, 29, 30-years-old looking for
full-time work. Looking for training. Looking for ways to payback
Enlisting guarantees a steady paycheck and a signing bonus from
$1,000 up to $40,000.
"No matter what you work, if you work the whole month or a couple of
days, it's automatic," said U.S. Army Recruiter Christopher Swantek
from his Glenway Avenue office. "If you're married you're going to
get a housing allowance if you choose not to live on a military post,
which that is guaranteed so you don't have to worry about a place to live."
Stephen Chaney, of Anderson Township, says he realizes there is a
chance that he could be sent to serve in a war zone, but he needs to
find a way to pay for college.
"I looked into student loans – and having a hard time getting those
to go through – so I figured I'd do this," Chaney said, from Sgt.
Williams office in Blue Ash.
Others need to support their families and say with a slow job market,
a military career is a way to learn a new skill.
"The automotive industry has hit Ohio very hard," said Sgt. Williams.
"People have come to me and said, 'Hey, I want to learn a trade.' The
Air National Guard, we have many trades from computers, to
communications satellite equipment."