The Army is offering enlistment bonuses of up to $50,000 for recruits with high skills signing up for six-year hitches, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.
That’s because COVID has hampered recruitment in recent years, Republican Rep. Michael Waltz of Florida told Fox News.
“The recruiters haven’t had access to the schools because the schools have been shut down for the last couple of years, particularly in the major inner cities,” Waltz, the first Green Bay elected to Congress, said Friday on “Fox & Friends.”
“They also tend to host big job fairs, these job fair-like events, they also haven’t been able to do that.”
Another problem, he said, is that 70 percent of potential recruits are not qualified as a result of their criminal history or drug abuse or because they are not in shape to meet physical requirements.
“All that combined in the competitive job market is why you’re seeing the military throwing this kind of money at the issue,” Waltz said.
Asked if vaccine requirements were a factor in a shortage of recruits, he said, “Well, it doesn’t help.”
“I also think just the debacle and the stain on our country’s conscience in Afghanistan isn’t helping either,” the congressman added.
Regarding school shutdowns, Maj. Gen. Kevin Vereen, head of Army Recruiting Command, told the AP, “We lost a full class of young men and women that we didn’t have contact with, face-to-face.”
With full Army strength required to be at 485,000, Vereen said recruiting pressures were eased a bit as some already in the Army elected to stay in. Recruiting goals for last year and this year were about 57,500.
Getting that $50,000 signing bonus will be difficult given the types of duties, the steep qualifications and when recruits can report for training.
In-demand Army duties include ranger and airborne positions, assuming recruits possess critical skills. Top positions also include missile defense, signals intelligence, certain fire control posts and special forces.
Other critical forces with healthy bonuses include infantry, intelligence, combat medics, police and combat engineers.
“We’re in a competitive market,” Vereen told the AP. “How we incentivize is absolutely essential, and that is absolutely something that we know that is important to trying to get somebody to come and join the military.”
It’s ironic that the Army is hustling to recruit while at the same time it is poised to dismiss soldiers for not taking the COVID vaccines.
Task and Purpose, which covers the military, reported Friday that so far no one has been booted from the Army for refusing to receive the vaccine, which was required by Dec. 15.
But the pressure is on the 4 percent who have not taken the shots.
“To those who continue to refuse the vaccine and are not pending a final decision on a medical or administrative exemption, I strongly urge you to get the vaccine,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said. “If not, we will begin involuntary separation proceedings.”
As of Wednesday, six Army leaders had lost their commands and 2,994 soldiers had received reprimands, Task and Purpose reported. It’s likely the reprimands are of a kind that could derail a soldier’s career.
More than 2,000 Army personnel have requested religious exemptions to the vaccines, but none was granted. Of requests for 600 medical exemptions, five were allowed.
In speaking to Fox News, Waltz pointed to vaccine issues in the National Guard.
“Where the issue is is in the National Guard right now, which is sitting around 60 [percent vaccinated],” he said. “Their deadline is later, it’s not until June, but that could be a massive blow to our readiness.”
“The National Guard has been overworked the last couple of years between wildfires, hurricanes, COVID and their overseas deployments,” Waltz said, “and the Pentagon’s going to have to think twice.
“Fortunately, we got language in the last defense bill that told them to incorporate natural immunity into their calculations.”
Task and Purpose reported that as of last week 67 percent of the Army National Guard had been vaccinated along with 73 percent of the Army Reserves.
Last month, the Marines discharged 103 service members for refusing vaccination, Politico said, while the Air Force booted 27, according to NPR. The Navy separated 20 sailors on Jan. 5, Navy Times said.
It seems absurd to see aggressive recruiting while some in the armed forces are being discharged for refusing to receive experimental vaccinations.
But that is just part of the craziness as we near the second anniversary of our two weeks of flattening the curve.
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