Government may need more troops

July 21, 2009 9:03:23 PM PDT
Recruiting offices were extremely busy Tuesday as new recruits said the tough economy and lack of civilian jobs have them ready to sign up for the military.Derrick Addie and Janay Puryear, both 18-years-old, said they went to basic training after joining the Army for different reasons.

"It's not really looking good, a lot of people are getting laid off and businesses are getting shut down," Army recruit Derrick Addie said. "And the military is like guaranteed pay."

"My dad used to be in the Army," Army recruit Janay Puryear said. "I feel like I can serve just as well as he did. I feel like I can make him proud like that. And I'm also doing it for educational purposes."

Army officials have said they are doing all it can to increase the size of its force.

Fighting two wars on two fronts has taken a toll on the ranks. At least 3,000 soldiers can't return to the battlefield, because of physical or mental injuries.

The Pentagon said the Army has to grow by about 30,000 troops.

Recruiters like Sergeant First Class Norman Gentle said the Army has been pulling out all the stops to reach the goal.

"The enlistment age is from 17 to 42-years-old, so that is a wider range," Gentle said. "You can find a father and a son enlisting and going to basic training at the same time."

Gentle said the tough economy makes Army benefits and the new GI bill -that takes effect August 1- even bigger sellers.

"It's a good GI bill," Gentle said. "It's changed in a lot of ways. For example I can now pass that down to my spouse for up to three years. And she can use that up to $10,000 a semester to go to school."

In addition to finding new recruits, the Army is counting on soldiers already on active duty deciding to stay in the Army.

Officials said there has even been a push to get some part-time Army Reserve soldiers to go full-time active duty.


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