Conflicting Messages, Military Recruitment and Change

After reading a recent article on Army numbers falling 25% short of their goal of 60,000 new recruits in 2022 (Baldor AP, Washington, March 2023), it caused me to reflect on conversations with my Iraq veteran son.

Throughout his recovery since returning home from his year long tour Iraq in 03-04, I have asked him on several different occasions if he would ever join the military if he had it to do over, knowing what he now knows.

Without hesitation and with pointed resolve, he consistently says “no”.

Sometimes he elaborates, but mostly he says that joining the military was not at all like it was presented to be.

In the article by Baldour, it mentions that the Army is pulling a recruitment ad aimed at “overcoming obstacles”, “pushing tomorrow” and “being all you can be”. Since they recruited athlete and star Johnathan Majors to be the voice for the ads, and since he has recently been charged for a domestic dispute in NY, they took their targeted ads out of circulation for the time being.

Makes sense. It’s a conflicting message. Maybe recognizing that alone is news of progress.

So as I pondered the things that could be done to raise military recruitment, and that would not send conflicting messages, here are some ideas that came to mind.

  1. Implement an internal sweep of each branch of the military and realign processes that will match what you offer. (If you say you have a well oiled machine both literally and figuratively, then make sure that is the case).
  2. Offer more money, better housing, and definitely better incentives and overall care. Just like the civilian world, recruits need to have basic needs met, and then evidence that they will be met and that there is room to move forward.
  3. Continue the work that is being done to streamline care and benefits. Until that is accomplished, recruit competent and qualified navigators to assist recruits, service members and veterans with the benefits they are earning. Right now, it is very challenging (if not downright impossible) to navigate the complex system to receive all the benefits promised.

And maybe even better still, might be initiating required volunteer service of some sort for ALL Americans. It could be the Peace Corp, needed community support, the military, etc…whatever best fits your personal philosophy, but something that EVERY AMERICAN engages in to serve.  Perhaps by creating a national program that acknowledges that all of us are investing in this country, it would level the playing field and offer a renewed sense of connection.

Regardless, it is evident that what has been done is no longer working and it’s an opportunity to grow from it. Repeating old slogans and outworn and/or unfulfilled promises and processes may not offer our country all that she is worth, and that is priceless.

What would you do to change the processes?


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