Army recruiters are faced with tougher competition from civilian workforce employers these days. In recent years, more and more civilian corporations have offered college tuition payments and signing bonuses to prospective employees, which have been mainstay Army recruiting incentives for several decades.
The Army, though, is firing back with new enlistment incentives to keep pace with civilian career options for potential recruits.
“We have a wide variety of active Army enlistment options and incentives,” said Douglas Smith, Public Affairs Officer, Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox. “We’re up to a $20,000 cash enlistment bonus, a potential for a $71,000 Education Benefit, (which is the Montgomery GI Bill combined with the Army College Fund), a $65,000 Student Loan Repayment Program, a 15-month plus training option ( National Call to Service Program), and an Education Plus program.”
Army incentives now include Army Reserve enlistment bonuses of up to $10,000 for non-prior-service enlistees. The Army Reserve non-prior-service maximum enlistment age is now 39 and 471 older Reserve recruits have signed up as a result of the age limit change in 2005. An additional 441 also joined the Army National Guard due to the change in the age limit.
“Corporations are trying to speak to the same people we are,” said Lt. Col. Shawn McCurry, enlisted accessions analyst, Office of the Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G1.
“Several factors, such as an improving economy and the continuing operations in support of the War on Terror, have created a challenging recruiting environment," McCurry said. "The Army has identified and targeted several important areas to improve its position, which include our recruiting force, incentives, advertising, and the policies affecting those three.”
The Army’s latest drive to get more applicants to the recruiting office includes personalized television ads which have targeted the most skeptical of America’s citizens: the parents of potential recruits.
“Due to parental concerns,” said Smith, “recruiters now have to work with the whole family - not just the applicant, to overcome apprehensions about the potential risks of becoming a Soldier in today's environment.”
“The intent of our advertising is to speak to the prospect, as well as their influencers,” said McCurry. “Parents have a big piece of the influence on today’s youth but influencer’s are more than just parents – they’re teachers, coaches, and community leaders.
"Young people are talking to their influencers about their important decisions," McCurry said. "We want to make sure they are getting the Army’s message on the importance for service to the nation.”
With traditional and new enlistment cash incentives on the rise, the Army’s recruiting command is highly optimistic for the 2006 recruiting goals across the board. In the recruiting arena, getting the message out to would-be Soldiers still comes down to face-to-face, personal interaction between the potential applicant’s most informed advisor: the Army recruiter.
“We’ve recently increased our recruiting force across all components,” said McCurry. “For the young man or woman who is considering enlistment in any Army component, the recruiter - an actual Soldier still has the greatest impact on helping them to reach an informed decision to enlist in the Army, and become part of something bigger than themselves.”
New incentives proposed on the horizon may offer competitive advantages for those who may choose the path of the American Soldier.