U.S. Military Looks to Expand Recruiting Base

The U.S. military is widely known as the strongest fighting force on the Earth. And with threats and tensions running high around the world, including the recent dust-up with Iran, military leaders are continually looking to beef up the ranks with new recruits. Part of that effort is branching out from the traditional recruiting hotbeds. A new report shows that the vast majority of military recruits still come from communities near military bases, and from individuals with relatives serving in the military. In fact, last year 79 percent of Army recruits reported having a family member who served.

Geography is also a big factor in recruiting success. Those enlisting come overwhelmingly from counties in the South and more conservative parts of the country. Not surprisingly, Texas is among the strongest recruiting areas. "We usually put in around 2,400 able-bodied citizens to go serve their country every year, and we've been meeting and exceeding that over the last couple of years," says Lt. Col. Barry Winnegan with the Houston Army Recruiting Battalion. "So the quality here in Houston is actually really good."

Winnegan tells KTRH that Houston has a strong recruiting base especially because of its population. "There is a large veteran population here in Houston," he says. "Those veterans are leaders in their community, so they do have influence on our young people and what they think about military service."

Despite recruiting success in the South and military communities, the military is looking to reach others who may have a false perception of military service. "A lot of the (military) stuff you see on TV and in the movies simply isn't true," says Winnegan. "The Army in particular has 150 job specialties, and most of them are not combat-related...most of them have some type of civilian job equivalent."

Ultimately, Winnegan says they want to show young people that military service can be far more than "Be All You Can Be" or "We're Looking For a Few Good Men." "When I was a young man at 19, I signed up (for the Army) because I wanted money for college... and now, here I am 22 years later still serving my country," he says.

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