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$113M Booster Shot Raises Recruit Bonuses, Incentives

By Staff Sgt. Alicia K. Borlik, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1, 1999 – Congress gave the Defense Department an additional $113 million in October to boost 1999 recruiting and retention efforts.

"The U.S. armed forces are facing a very challenging recruiting time, perhaps the most challenging since the inception of the all-volunteer force in 1973," said Air Force Col. James R. Holaday, deputy director for accession policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Management Policy. The Navy and Army last year missed their recruiting goals, the Navy by 6,900 recruits and the Army, 800, he noted.

Holaday said the additional funds will help the services deal with today's unusual recruiting market. The services, he said, need to be able to keep pace with the booming economy, which is driving more youth to college and civilian jobs instead of the military.

He said about $54 million will go toward advertising, $42 million will boost the services' enlistment bonus programs, and $17 million will supplement recruiter support activities. The Navy will receive the largest share, especially in advertising, to increase its chances for success, he said.

Advertising is how the services reach the target market of 18- to 24-year-old high-school graduates and send the message that they have opportunities available, Holaday said. Each service works with its own advertising agency to attract recruits with a unique message, he added.

Because the No. 1 reason young people enlist is for education -- to learn a skill and earn money for college -- the military is taking steps to enhance those opportunities, Holaday said. Recruits may qualify for up to $50,000 in education incentives. These include Montgomery GI Bill benefits and what the services call "kickers," a special bonus used to recruit for tough-to- fill positions.

Recruits may also qualify for cash enlistment bonuses, also used for hard-to-fill jobs. The Army and Navy offer up to DoD's maximum of $12,000 per bonus. The Air Force tops out at $9,000 and Marine Corps, $5,000.

The $42 million marked for bonuses will raise the number available, not DoD's $12,000 ceiling, Holaday said. The Navy and the Army are getting more money for bonuses because they have the greatest need, he added.

The Congress-approved $113 million was included in its readiness supplemental to the 1999 Defense Authorization Act, and it is in addition to the $2.3 billion the services budgeted for enlisted recruitment advertising, recruiter salaries and benefits, educational incentives and enlistment bonuses.

For more information on opportunities in the military, visit the services' recruiting Web sites at: www.navyjobs.com, www.goarmy.com, www.airforce.com and www.Marines.com.

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