Rocky Recruitment: Climbing Recruiters


Photo by Grace Yarrow

Military recruiters are finding decreasing numbers of high school students interested in joining the military.

Nathan Bingham and Brooke O'Flaherty

 Since 1969, the United States Military Force has progressively seen a decline in its size; according to Dave Coleman, author of History in Pieces, it reached its lowest point in the 21st century. The branch taking the biggest hit in the number of recruits is also the country’s oldest: the Army.

As reported by The New York Times Upfront after the abolishment of the drafting system of recruitment in 1973 following the end of the Vietnam War, the Army, along with the other branches of the military, has relied on volunteers to fill its ranks; to support this effort, they send recruiters to high schools across the nation to inform students about the possible career paths in the military.

To strengthen the military, the Armed forces have created a series of standards for members through seminars, workshops, and graduate education. In order to join the US Army as of 2018, one must be in good health, able to read, speak, and write fluently in English, in general be between the ages 17 and 40, have a high school diploma, pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test, and at least have a green card.

Beyond these prerequisites, the United States government may disqualify individuals based on mental, medical, criminal, educational, and moral backgrounds. The culmination of requirements for joining the Army coupled with the unappealing nature of the military has led to less and fewer people entering the force.  However, the army and its respective recruiters have begun to implement strategies to supplement their ranks with recruits of higher educational status. Stated by Jim Tice of Army Times, the Army has started to offer bonuses upon enlistment more often than before, of up to $40,000 to fill specialty roles which demand a higher education; moreover, Tice writes, as of 2017, 45,000 recruits were expected to receive such types of enlistment bonuses, much higher than in 2015 when 32,000 bonus contracts were issued when 15,000 youths enlisted in the Army. Recruiters have also realized what time of year is best to get results, finding it tends to lay when college and high school let out.

Senior Andres Jauregui Gutierrez comments on recruiters on campus.

“I mean, I don’t believe it’s great because we already have a massive army. We have a massive military, and we spend too much on our own military, so it’s drawing ourselves into a deeper deficit so what’s the point? And there are no benefits out of that; I mean, look at my cousin, he has one leg.” said Gutierrez.

Junior Matthew Wieland has a more positive outlook on the situation of recruiters on campus.

“I like having them there since it shows kids that you don’t have to go college after high school,” said Wieland.

As a still relatively new form of acquiring military personnel, the challenges faced by the Armed Forces — the Army especially — in using recruiters will determine the intensity of their strategies and their effectiveness into the foreseeable future.