Steve Nesius/AP

More Graduates Choosing Military in Uncertain Economy

May 21, 2009 07:00 PM
by Denis Cummings
More high school and college graduates are choosing to enter the military this year as the U.S. economy and job market continue to struggle.

Military Recruitment Up as Economy Is Down

This May and June, students are graduating from high school and college and facing an unstable economy and dwindling job market. In these times, the benefits and steady paycheck of the U.S. armed forces offer an attractive alternative to civilian life.

“Recruiters have generally struggled in times of private-sector job growth and done well during recessions,” says The Washington Post.

As the economy has declined over the past year and military benefits—including a new G.I. Bill that took effect Aug. 1, 2008—have increased, the military has seen a rise in recruiting. All active-duty and reserve forces met or exceeded their recruiting goals in fiscal year 2008, which ended in October, for the first time since 2004.
The armed forces have continued to recruit well in 2009; the Navy and Air Force, which “do not typically recruit above their monthly goals,” according to the Longmont Times-Call, have met their goals, while the Army and Marine Corps have exceeded them. In the most recent Department of Defense numbers, the Marine Corps achieved 164 percent of their April recruiting goal.
The Times-Call reports that recruiters in Colorado have noticed a rise in applicants in their 20s. “These are the folks who might have looked at the military after getting out of high school and now are coming back to investigate further as to whether there’s a career for them,” said Dan Puleio, a retired Navy officer.

Many recruits have said that the economy played a role in their decision. Shane Doonan, a high school baseball star in Minnesota, chose the Marines over a partial college scholarship due in part to a fear of graduating in debt and uncertainty over “how far a degree would even take him in an unstable economy and job market,” writes the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

But recruiters and recruits also warn that the economy should not be the driving factor to join the military. Doonan, the grandson of a Marine, had been considering the Corps for two years and attended a weekend boot camp before making his final decision.

Robert Mastriano, a “military brat” and graduating senior at California State University, Chico, spoke to the student newspaper about his decision to enter the military: “Joining the military is a big life decision. … If you’re joining the military because of (the economy), you’re probably not going to make it too far.”

Related Topic: Military recruiting in Britain

Recruiting numbers in Britain have also risen during the recession, so much so that the Army needed to create new training courses and a temporary camp to train the large number of recruits, reported the Daily Telegraph.

However, unlike the U.S. military, the British armed forces have continued to struggle in meeting retention goals.

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