Local News

Army recruiting on the rise

Posted January 29, 2009 4:54 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— Tommy Frato is at a tough crossroads.

He's 23 years old, working retail at Best Buy and looking for a solid career path in the midst of economic turmoil.



"Best Buy has been on a big hiring freeze, so there wasn't going to be a big opportunity for me to move up," he said.

Now, after more than four years with the chain store, Frato is trading in his Best Buy uniform for an Army uniform.

"Doing all the research, looking online for schools and opportunities, I just felt after everything that the Army was going to be a good fit for everything that I wanted to do," Frato said.

Sgt. Kelvin Pleasant, an Army representative at the Raleigh Armed Forces recruiting office, says he has seen a steady increase in foot traffic because of the economy.

"You hear everything from, 'I've lost my job' to 'I saw an advertisement,'" Pleasant said.

The numbers suggest a steady increase in people joining locally.

According to the Army recruiting battalion's contract mission numbers, or recruitment goals, the office reached 80 percent of its goals in 2005. In 2008, it reached 112 percent. So far, this month, it has exceeded its goal by 18 percent.

"To us, it comes from more efficiency and effectiveness in our approach," said Lt. Col. George Sterling, commander of the Raleigh recruiting office.

Sterling also notes that North Carolina often does well in recruiting because of strong military communities and ties throughout the area.

Sterling says it might be too early to clearly tie any surge in recruitment numbers to either the economy or an overall changing military mission.

"I think primarily that motivation of the economy is going to have more people look into it at least, but the bottom line is, there has to be an additional motivation," Sterling said.

Frato said he feels the Army is going to give him training and discipline he said he needs.

"I'm just very exited to get things rolling," he said.