View Full Version : Fewer influential adults recommending service

06-17-07, 05:34 PM
Fewer influential adults recommending service
The Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Jun 17, 2007 17:44:17 EDT

APEX, N.C. — Recent high school graduate Elizabeth Moody is an anomaly.

For this 17-year-old, joining the Army Reserves was a rational decision, one she hopes provides her with the means to one day enter dental school. That specialty interest, she believes, makes it highly unlikely she’ll end up in combat, but rather on a large base if called to duty and deployed.

“It’s a good way to get somewhere in life, to get into school and to make my parents proud and to serve the country,” said the soft-spoken Moody, who enters basic training next month in Missouri.

Statistics show that positive views about joining the military among adults and older teens who are influential in such decisions has declined.

The likelihood that an influential person such as a parent, grandparent, or teacher would recommend military service as of September had dropped to its lowest point since 2003 — the year the Iraq war started, according to a Pentagon study.

While Moody’s mother, Susana Moody, supports her daughter’s decision to serve, she’s scared for her.

“I pray every day that she doesn’t have to go, but I can’t show my emotions because I have to support her and be strong for her,” she said.

The change in attitude, say Army recruiters, has made their job more difficult just as the Army is trying to grow by more than 10 percent over the next five years.

In May, traditionally a bad month for recruiting, the Army missed a monthly recruiting goal for the first time in almost two years.

That was true for central North Carolina recruiters as well. The Raleigh recruiting battalion missed its target in May for active-duty recruits with 178 instead of the 194 it wanted to sign.

Worried about the drop in positive influences, the Army is running advertisements aimed at parents, with such lines as “You made them strong; we’ll make them Army Strong.”

For the past several years, the military has been trying to offset the trend by increasing bonuses for those who enlist or re-enlist.

The increase of parents telling their children not to join the military has been the deal-breaker for Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Carrington, a recruiter at an Army recruiting station in Cary.

“That’s OK,” he said. “We realize not everyone is going to join the Army.”

When that happens, recruiters often try to find out who the influential person is and involve them involved in the process.

“If the influencer is reluctant, we ask why,” Carrington said. “A lot of times, people are just focused on Iraq, but there’s a lot more to the Army than that.”

Sometimes, the person advising the potential recruit has a misconception about the Army, such as thinking joining automatically means infantry, he said. Carrington then explains there are many Army jobs that aren’t likely to place a soldier near combat.

“If a parent is worried, it’s mostly a fear of the unknown, so we try to get them as informed as possible,” said Cpl. Alexander Williams, an Army recruiter in Garner.

While recruiters can’t guarantee that someone who enlists won’t go to war, a recruiter won’t push a recruit toward a front-line position if the person clearly has problems with combat, Williams said.

Iraq wasn’t a serious consideration for 18-year-old Jonathan Cherry of Fuquay-Varina, who’s headed for the regular Army.

“That really didn’t really bother me that much,” Cherry said. “You could be hurt or killed driving in a car.”

Despite their fears, parents such as Susana Moody do welcome the military’s role in helping their child set a course for their life.

“These days not every kid is determined to get on a career path,” she said. “I’m proud of my baby.”