Military looks for new recruits at State Fair

Posted October 25, 2009 8:22 p.m. EDT
Updated October 25, 2009 11:08 p.m. EDT

— If you attended the North Carolina State Fair this year, you likely saw military recruiters. Despite the job hazards presented by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, active duty and reserve recruiting numbers are up.

During the budget year which ended Sept. 30, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps met recruiting goals for the first time since 1973, according to the Associated Press.

Recruiter Sgt. Matthew Newberry credits the down economy and increase in pay to the military market boom.

"The economy does play a factor and it does help right now. It helps with recruiting,” Newberry said while recruiting Sunday at the State Fair.

Newberry said one of the most common questions he gets from potential recruits is about benefits. The Army is currently offering $50,000 in benefits for a two-year commitment.

"With everything that is going on, I would like to do my part,” potential Army recruit John Stanley said.

Stanley, 32, said the weak job market is among the many reasons he is considering joining the Army.

"Just the opportunities it presents in general for other doors to open up for me,” Stanley said.

However, becoming a soldier is not as easy at it used to be because the Army has raised its minimum education requirements.

“You have to be a traditional high school graduate to come in now. They are no longer accepting GEDs,” Newberry said.

To help expand the recruiting pool, the Army three years ago boosted the maximum age for active-duty forces to 42.

Newberry said the Army is also getting a lot of interest from recent college graduates at its more than 1,600 recruiting stations nationwide. With tens of thousands of layoffs since last fall, many graduates are having a tough time finding a civilian job.