and says “where do I sign?” The sergeant on duty hands him a waiting list.
No. Nothing funny about it.
I knew a few weeks ago that the wait time to join the Army currently hovers around 12 months. This CNN story seems to attribute it as much to reduction of force as anything, which is somewhat true. But my son, who I discussed this with yesterday, blames it at least equally on our (alleged) recovery from the recession which (theoretically) ended in 2009.
According to him, due to the amount of people enlisting because they’ve run out of options in the job market, enlistment goals have already been exceeded for the year. By 3%. He just returned to Ft Campbell last week from a mini-vacation in Florida to discover that he can no longer re-enlist; re-enlistment has been closed to pay grades under E5 (Sergeant). This is not a big deal to him, as he plans to get out next May and go back to college, but for a lot of guys he serves with, who planned on making a career of the military and/or were counting on the stability of military pay and health care and housing to tide over young families during this recession, this is a big deal indeed.
Having spent some time on Army bases in the last couple of years I can say that there are a lot of young families among the lower enlisted ranks. A lot of them. I’ve always just assumed its one of the reasons for the enlistment choice: very young people with children to support already and no college degree who are pursuing an option that offers stability to their families while they seek greater opportunity. Where do these families go from here?
Sure, they will have veteran’s benefits and can, like my son, go off to college. But then again, my son does not have a wife and two or three kids under five at home. How do they feed and house them in this economy?
What about their influx into the job market next year? How will this new competition affect recent high school and college grads who are seeking to enter the job market for the first time? We know already these recent grads can’t, like generations before them, fall back on the option of joining the service if they can’t otherwise find employment in hard times.
And how will the cuts to defense in the Debt Ceiling Deal-O-Doom affect this trend? Will it accelerate it?
I don’t mean to suggest that it’s an inherently bad thing for us to reduce our defense outlays – they are monstrously swollen in comparison to any other country on the globe. And as the Mom of a soldier who recently returned from a year in Afghanistan, oh yes, I really, really want us out of there – and Iraq.
But I do think we need to start thinking about this as a big layoff coming down soon. And the employer doing this particular layoff is the same one who seems to be stubbornly unwilling to acknowledge that we have a jobs problem: the U.S. Government.
Cross-posted to DailyKos