Recruiters say interest is up

Published 11:59 pm Monday, March 23, 2009

While the economy may be going through a national downturn, military recruiters have benefited from an influx of those considering military service as a career or possible stepping stone to college.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jerry Shore, who is with the Montgomery Recruiting Battalion and works in the Andalusia Army recruiting station on East Three Notch Street, said his station has already achieved its goal for the fiscal year 2009 — which began in October.

“Our goal for this year was 28 enlistments and we’ve already made that goal,” Shore said. “I had one month where I personally enlisted nine by myself. We made our goal in 2008 as well, but it was a case where we just barely made it in the last month of that year. So you can definitely tell enlistments are up.”

Shore said he sees a good mix of those who are interested in joining the Army — they are not only high schoolers.

“(Later this week), I’ve got someone who’s coming in at 39 years old to take the test,” he said. “We’re starting to see a lot of people in their mid-20s; it’s a good mix. It seems to be pretty busy here no matter what time of the year. There’s always people looking for jobs, trying to get into the Army and better themselves.”

Shore said interest in the Army is so high that it has started placing restrictions on applicants. He said “people with GED’s are finding it harder to get in,” and that the Army is refusing many applications that contain “moral waivers” — a special certification needed in the case of an applicant who has been charged with a serious crime.

Nicholas Lawson, a 17-year-old junior at Andalusia High School, said he looks forward to joining the Army after he graduates.

“There were some friends who were talking to me about joining the Army, so I came and talked to Sgt. Shore and it pulled me in,” Lawson said. “I was pretty fascinated with it. I’d either like to be in infantry airborne, out on the battlefield, or in the military police.”

Shore said the Army provides a variety of different career paths and jobs, estimating there are about 200 unique jobs in the military branch.

“These jobs range from infantry and actually being on the field of battle, to working with computers, to health care and dentistry,” he said. “Basically, if you can think of a job in the civilian community then we probably have it in the Army, since we’re a self-supportive organization.”

Shore said an interested applicant must first take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test, and pass a physical inspection in Montgomery. High school graduates must make at least a 31 on the ASVAB, and all other applicants must make a 50 or higher. The test also determines which jobs an enlistee for which an enlistee can qualify — the higher a grade on the test, the more options are available for job opportunities.

After passing both the ASVAB and the physical, the applicant is then enlisted and will report for basic training usually within a month.

Shore said it is a pleasure working in Covington County, because the citizens place a high regard on military service.

“This is a very patriotic town,” he said. “There’s a kid who I’m talking to who is 16, and his mom has already said that if he wants to join the Army when he’s older, then she will fully support him. We see a lot of that; I talk to a lot of high schoolers because they can enlist when they’re juniors. The ones who are interested in joining as an 11th grader, their parents are typically behind them, 100 percent.”