For fiscal year 2009 ending September 30, the Department of Defense announced that for first time since the draft, every service branch and reserve component had met or exceeded their recruiting numbers.
Before they were famous, many truly influential men and women started by serving their country in the US military or grew up in military families.

Economic Downturn? Not for the Military.

As unemployment and college tuition rates rise to record highs, young US citizens are looking to the military to find their own economic stability.

For fiscal year 2009 ending September 30, the Department of Defense announced that for first time since the draft, every service branch and reserve component had met or exceeded their recruiting numbers. Military recruitment goals were achieved both in terms of quantity and quality of new military recruits.

To enhance the benefits of military life, the military has made many positive changes in recent years including a newly expanded Post 9/11 GI Bill, steadily increasing military allowances, reenlistment bonuses and incentives, all of which make joining the military a desirable option for young middle class and even upper class citizens.


Record high military recruits for 2009 may be linked to the weakened economy observed in the same timeframe. Overall unemployment in March 2007 was 4.4 percent and by September 2009, while military recruitment set an all-time high, the overall unemployment rate had more than doubled to 9.8 percent In addition, military jobs are projected to expand from 2010 - 2016, while other segments of the job market, across a variety of industries, continue to suffer major cutbacks.


Military pay increases combined with expanded military benefits, have made the overall military pay package more competitive with private sector salaries, even for new recruits and enlisted soldiers. In 2009, a new military recruit could earn up to $20,000 in the first year of basic pay alone. Add to this military tax-free Basic Allowance for Housing, military allowances for food and clothing, plus military supported childcare and options for military special pay, and the military paycheck may just outrank private sector pay for the first time.


The expanded education benefits of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which includes full tuition coverage for in-state and private colleges as well as living stipends, is another factor contributing to record high military recruits. An estimated 85 percent of new recruits show an interest in the new 9/11 GI Bill education benefits. This is especially significant, as college tuitions seem to continue to rise, even in the face of a worsening economy, making college a less accessible for many middle class young Americans.


High military recruitment numbers may be temporary. A number of factors continue to dissuade citizens from military life, including increased troop deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and more.

But for those considering enlistment, incentives are high. Forty percent of recruits in 2009 received signing bonuses, which averaged $24,300 for new soldiers, $16,600 for sailors, $11,000 for Marines and $9,000 for airmen.

And for those in the military who already enjoy military life and its benefits and considering reenlistment, check out the host of military reenlistment bonuses that may be available to benefit you.


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