Various factors affect recruiting

Published 8:35 pm Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Special to the Daily News

National polling shows disillusionment with one war that has officially “ended” and an ongoing war.
Despite that disillusionment, the nation’s armed forces continue to find people from eastern North Carolina to join their ranks.
During recent weeks, the Washington Daily News contacted area recruiting offices with all five branches of the armed forces. Officials at each recruiting office were asked similar questions about how many people from the Washington area joined their particular branch of the service and if they had seen any trends in recruiting numbers.
Bob Harrison, a public-affairs official with the Army’s North Carolina recruiting battalion based in Raleigh, responded to an inquiry about recent local recruiting trends.
Harrison said that consistent high unemployment in the area might be one factor in some people’s decisions to join the Army.
“Unemployment is always a factor in Americans’ career choices, and we believe trends correlate Army recruiting numbers to the rate of unemployment. Overall in North Carolina and the greater Greenville area, we generally meet our annual Army goals, and have over the last 10 to 15 years.”
The Army recruiting office in Greenville had a goal of gaining 67 active duty soldiers for the entire 2010 fiscal year. Recruiters working there managed to recruit 86 people as of Sept. 3. They were able to recruit nine people from Washington. Washington ended up being the office’s third-most productive area behind Greenville and Winterville.
The Army Reserve’s Greenville office’s goal for the entire 2010 fiscal year was 18 people. It recruited 19 people. Washington produced one recruit for the Army Reserve.
Harrison said the cost of college could influence people’s long-term decisions regarding joining the Army so they can get money to go to college.
“We would accept the premise that the employment environment likely induces more Americans to consider a wider array of options that could include Army service for either career needs or educational benefits,” Harrison said.
Harrison mentioned a post-9/11 G.I. Bill that went into effect Aug. 1, 2009. Soldiers who serve at least 90 aggregate days on active duty and are honorably discharge receive a number of benefits. These benefits include tuition and fees paid directly to their post-secondary school of choice and a housing allowance equivalent to what an active-duty sergeant earns based on the ZIP codes of the schools they attend.
The Raleigh recruiting battalion has met or exceeded its goals during the past two years to the point of recognition as the best Army recruiting battalion in the nation during the fiscal years 2008 and 2009.
Nationally, the Army recruited 63,064 people for active duty against a goal of 62,437 recruits. For fiscal year 2010 (which ended Sept. 30), the Army’s recruitment goal was 74,000. The Army expected to meet that goal.
Amy Cost is the Air Force’s recruiting flight chief for eastern North Carolina. She supervises a flight of Air Force recruiters located in New Bern, Jacksonville, Greenville, Goldsboro and Rocky Mount.
Cost explained that the Air Force recruiting office that covers the Washington area is in New Bern. She explained that in fiscal year 2009, the office’s recruiting goal was to enlist 29 recruits. It enlisted 31 people. The office’s goal for fiscal year 2010 was 25 enlistees. It enlisted 29 people.
The New Bern office has one recruiter who covers Beaufort, Craven, Pamlico and Hyde counties.
Cost elaborated on some of the trends she saw in local recruiting data.
“There has always been a high interest in the Air Force as we offer many benefits and a great way of life. This area particularly has always been very supportive of military service. But I have seen an increase in interest in the last year or so. I have also seen older and more-educated (applicants). This past year, the Air Force has helped many people with college degrees who are looking for better opportunities to improve their lives,” Cost said.
Tracy Smith, is a chief marine science technician with the Coast Guard. She is the recruiter in charge of the Coast Guard’s recruiting office in Raleigh. Her office covers 19 counties in the North Carolina. Beaufort County is one of them.
Smith noted that she had not seen any trends in her recruiting data that were worth mentioning.
Smith said that her office met its recruiting goal for 2010. She said during fiscal year 2008 her office enlisted 33 people. In the 2009 fiscal year, her office enlisted 49 people. For the 2011 fiscal year, her office has a goal of recruiting 49 people.
Kelly Wright, a public affairs official with the Navy’s recruiting district in Raleigh, noted that two people from the Washington area joined the Navy as reservists in the last fiscal year. She did not elaborate on recruiting numbers from previous fiscal years or trends in their recruiting-related data.
A Marine Corps recruiting official with the Marines’ recruiting office in Greenville reported that eight people had joined the Marine Corps during the last fiscal year. He did not elaborate about recruiting numbers from the previous fiscal years nor trends in the recruiting-related data.