Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Real Recruiting Challenge: Parents

At least the New York Times is trying to do its job, with a major story on future military recruiting challenges even if the overall size of the Army and Marine Corps remain the same. Money quote:

Part of the struggle, recruiters said, is economic. Attracting young people to military service is difficult when jobs are plentiful and wages are on the rise.

The pool of eligible candidates is also small, as Army requirements that recruits meet certain physical, mental and moral standards mean that only 3 of 10 18-year-old Americans may apply.

Parents are another major obstacle to recruitment, Pentagon studies have shown. For some recruits, signing up means risking alienating parents, or just plain ignoring them.

Luis Vega, for example, after being sworn in to the Army Reserve on Friday at Fort Hamilton, said he had not told his parents.

“They think it’s just a phase,” he said.

His head was already shaved; he planned to ship out in April. And besides his fiancée, who he said supported the move, Mr. Vega, 28, said he was the only one in his hometown of East Rutherford, N.J., who seemed to understand the value of military service.

“Everybody thinks I’m crazy,” Mr. Vega said.

Such parents include President George W. Bush (R) and outgoing Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R). [Yes, just sit through the Salon ad; it's brief and worth it.]

Hat tip to Dogged.


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