As I've blogged about before as the unemployment rate increases and the recession continues to linger, the Army is having a much easier time meeting its recruitment goals---even though there are battles being fought in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Here's a story from the AP:
Military recruiting rises amid recession, layoffs
Services meet goals for first time since Iraq violence spiked in 2004.
RICHMOND — Military recruiters in eastern Indiana say their recruitment figures are on the rise, partly because recently laid-off workers are signing up with Uncle Sam.
Some laid-off workers have visited the U.S. Army's recruitment office in Richmond to inquire about military careers, said Sgt. Greg Lynch, an Army recruiter.
“Yes, our numbers are up, and I suspect some of it is people who have lost their jobs and don't have a lot of alternatives,” said Lynch, who works in the Richmond recruitment office.
Lynch said older men and women are inquiring about careers in the Army, including workers laid off from companies such as Visteon in Connersville and Astral Industries in Lynn.
“The recession and unemployment does help with recruiting,” he said, adding that “Indiana is a patriotic state.”
Many of those people who've been looking into joining the Army are interested in educational and other benefits that come with military service, said U.S. Navy Senior Chief Cesar Diaz, who oversees recruiting for a zone that includes eastern Indiana.
“The young people are coming in for better opportunities, to learn a skill or get an education. They are also looking at money for college,” Diaz said.
Jessica Clark, an 18-year-old who graduated from high school last year, recently came to the Army Recruiting Center in Richmond to talk to Lynch. She's looking at the Army as a way to complete her studies in nursing.
“It's a way to better myself and help pay for college,” she said. “I would also like to travel the world, but ultimately I'm interested in the medical field.”
The New York Times reported in January that recruiting for all active-service and reserve forces met or exceeded recruiting goals during the first quarter of this fiscal year - the first time since 2004, when violence in Iraq was intensifying.
Early numbers for 2009 suggest that enlistments will continue to grow.
The Indiana Army National Guard, which recently returned more than 3,300 soldiers from Iraq, also has seen continued interest in enlistment.
“There are more people who just walk in off the street,” said Richmond recruiter Sgt. Todd O'Neal. “Some are older. Some are ones laid off from jobs.”
O'Neal said he transferred from Connersville, where he helped enlist a 37-year-old woman with a bachelor's degree and another woman who was 40.
The Army in 2006 increased the age of enlistment from 35 to 42.
“You get people from everywhere,” O'Neal said. “It has been up recently. The Guard's big thing is paying for people's college.”
Marine Corps recruiting also has increased, said Sgt. Jay Edwards, a Marine spokesman in Indianapolis.