The US military has increased its enlistment bonus to $50, 000 to battle recruiting issues, calling the military business of the world a ‘competitive’ job market.
As US Army recruiters have been struggling to meet quotas during the pandemic plus reduction in the number of high school and college students that join the military, the Pentagon is now offering a $50,000 maximum enlistment bonus to new recruits who sign up for six years. It’s the first time the bonus has reached $50,000 and a 25% increase on the previous max bonus of $40,000.
“We are still living the implications of 2020 and the onset of COVID, when the school systems basically shut down,” Maj. Gen. Kevin Vereen, head of Army Recruiting Command, told the Associated Press.
“We lost a full class of young men and women that we didn’t have contact with face-to-face.”
The army says some careers, including missile defense crew, special forces, signals intelligence and fire control specialists, provide a better chance at receiving the full $50k than others, but the bonuses are based on a number of different factors.
In 2021, new recruits’ average bonus was $14,000.
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“We’re in a competitive market,” Vereen said. “How we incentivize is absolutely essential.”
Brig. Gen. John Cushing, who serves under Vereen, implied that the increased bonuses would only be eligible to people who enrolled during the fallow period. Fallow period is between February and May when army recruiting is usually low due to dew people graduating from school.
“It is certainly a weapon that we have in our arsenal,” Cushing said. “And I think we’ve used it effectively.”
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The US Army has also taken other measures to lure recruits. In 2021 it increased the option to enlist for two years, expanding it to 84 different career fields. In addition, some of the new troops will have the option of choosing where they’ll be assigned.
“We want to promote the value of serving your country first,” Vereen said. “But we also know that, this generation and I guess human nature, you know, it’s all about compensation, too.”