You might not realize it, but the military strength of the United States is not what it used to be. Sure, this has something to do with the now-required and ongoing sensitivity training on various subjects that take away from things like actual combat readiness skills.
But it also has to do with the sheer amount of personnel enlisted.
As you know, every year, each military branch loses thousands of recruits, whether that be to retirement, death, or just the end of their enlistment. In years past, though, that didn’t really matter. Each branch also had large swaths of young recruits willing to join up and serve their country.
But it’s not really like that anymore.
As NBC News reported in late June, there is a record low percentage of young people in America who are even eligible to serve in one branch or another. Most are ineligible due to some health-related condition that does not meet branch standards and for which a waiver is not applicable.
Additionally, the outlet reported that even fewer are willing to consider a career in the armed forces, or even the most basic of enlistment terms, which is typically four years. And with the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and still low unemployment rates, recruiting the few who are willing is harder than ever.
Suffice it to say that our military branches are desperate for personnel.
And that is exactly why some branches have decided to come up with a few incentives or bonus programs to either entice recruits to sign up or encourage veterans to reenlist.
The Navy, for instance, has one of the most advantageous so far.
In an August 6 news release Rear Admiral Lex Walker, who heads up the Navy Recruiting Command, announced a sign-on bonus of $50,000 and another $65,000 to pay off student loan debt. As Walker says, it could be a “life-altering $115,000” for some.
The Air Force has a similar program available. Bonuses for incoming airmen can be anywhere from $3,000 to $58,000 if they sign up by September 30, the end of the federal government’s fiscal year. However, to meet their recruiting goals for the year of 26,000 recruits, the Air Force needs thousands more.
The Navy’s deadline for their lucrative bonuses is also September 30. However, their additional bonus program for high school recruits has a later deadline. For high school seniors, those that enter before October 31 and graduate before shipping out in July of 2023, will receive $10,000.
It is noted that veterans wishing to reenlist through the Navy’s program do not have to specifically be Navy vets. Veterans from any branch may join, as long as they are eligible still, of course.
Eligibility for vets of the program means re-entry at an E-4 pay grade or lower and not receiving a bonus during the first enlistment term, according to the Navy release. Other specific bonus eligibility may apply.
For those who were already in the Navy, the usual boot camp will not be necessary. Instead, just in-processing at the Recruit Training Command Great Lakes in Illinois is required. Vets from other branches will require the typical recruit training experience, including live-fire, swim qualifications, firefighting, and ship handling.
As Walker says, “this is an opportunity without precedent. And if you have student loan debt, you could be eligible for the Loan Repayment Program if you ship in any month of any fiscal year while the program remains active.”
Indeed, it could be a game changer for some individuals.
Hopefully, more than a few veterans and prospective enlistees will take them up on this offer and others. As has been proven, a nation without a strong military force isn’t worth a whole lot. And ours definitely needs some work, especially if things keep heating up between us and China.
There is also a certain Russian problem that may need to be handled at some point, although, given the losses Putin’s army has already faced, the effort might not be all that much.
In the meantime, let’s hope our military branches can secure some more recruits.