Recruitment is down, and the Pentagon is asking parents to help

October 30, 2018

Elizabeth Howe, 

Recruitment numbers are down, the Army fell short of its recruitment goals for the first time since 2005 and the Department of Defense’s newest Today’s Military campaign is asking parents for help. The Pentagon announced its four-part series of ads “depicting critical military skills and how parents can engage in open conversations about joining.”

Three of the ads have been released so far:

“Bigger Than Myself”

Why does today’s military need so much help with recruitment efforts? It’s a complex problem with countless contributing factors.

For one thing, the eligibility pool is shrinking — only 29 percent of 17 to 24-year-olds are fit, smart and moral enough to join. And it appears that 29 percent has other things to do, namely join the workforce. Something that is not too challenging given the state of the economy and low unemployment numbers.  

This demographic of American youth also no longer remembers 9/11. The “War on Terror” has gone on longer almost as long as some these teens have been alive — and a lot of them, lacking the emotional memories of the events of 9/11, want nothing to do with war.

There’s also the factor that this campaign focuses on — lineage. Twenty years ago, 40 percent of adolescents had at least one veteran parent. Today, only 15 percent do. Gone are the days of sons and daughters following parents’ footsteps into military service. While 15 percent of America’s youths might inherit a passion for service, 85 percent do not. Recruitment efforts demonstrate the impact of those numbers.

So the Pentagon’s newest campaign is reaching out to this largely civilian population of parents and asking for their support.

"We understand there's a disconnect between the American public and their understanding of the military, especially when compared to previous generations," explains Matt Boehmer, director of the DoD's Office of People Analytics.

The campaign and the countless resources available on Today’s Military hopes to bridge that disconnect. There’s a lot at stake here — for those considering service, for families and for national security.

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