Magazine article VFW Magazine

Crisis in Military Recruiting

Magazine article VFW Magazine

Crisis in Military Recruiting

Article excerpt

It is time the nation acknowledged the underlying causes of the youthful lack of interest in joining the services.

During 1999, newspaper headlines were filled with stories about military recruiting problems. And they were correct to focus attention on this critical issue. Among those of primary recruiting age, only 12% are now inclined to enlist in the armed forces.

But the solution to this problem is not the one so often offered. Lowering standards and simply throwing money at recruits in the form of inflated bonuses are not the answers. Instead of emphasizing tangible benefits, appeals should stress the intangibles of service to country.

Ad campaigns must underscore the pride of meeting personal challenges and the value of patriotism. Only the Marines continue to rely on these traditional values. But let's not foot ourselves, this is an uphill battle.

The vast majority of Americans no longer have contact with GIs. Fewer than 6% of Americans under the age of 65 have served in the military. What that means is there are too few "influencers"-role models at home and in school-who inspire enlistment for the sake of duty alone.

Some say that sense of duty died with the draft. Careerism has superseded civic responsibility. The concept of citizen soldiering on a large-scale is obsolete in the 21 st century, they say.

Yet David R. Segal, author of Recruiting for Uncle Sam and the founder of the Center for Research on Military Organization, discovered something different a decade ago. …

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