Pentagon leaders announced that ongoing military recruitment is down 23% off their annual target.
This comes as the military is boosting incentives to reel in recruits.
For example, a six-year active duty enlistment in the U.S. Army has a sign-on bonus of up to $50,000, but the number of new enlistees is still lagging far behind the goal.
The Army’s recruiting command says that awareness has been a recruiting challenge and that 50% of youth say they know little to nothing about military service.
The majority of recruits come from eight states: California, Illinois, Ohio, New York, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida and Texas, which has the largest percentage of recruits.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s 2020 propensity report found only 11% of teens and young adults, between 16 and 21 years old, planned on future service in the military. In fall 2018, that number was 13%.
The survey also found that as people get older, their interest in joining the military declines.
The top three reasons respondents gave for considering joining the U.S. military were pay/money, to pay for future education and travel.
The top reasons for not joining the military were the possibility of physical injury/death, the possibility of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or emotional/psychological issues and the possibility of sexual harassment/assault.
In 2021, nearly one in four U.S. servicewomen reported being sexually assaulted in the military, and 32% of respondents cited the “possibility of sexual harassment/assault” as a reason not to join the military.