Isle Army recruitment trend mirrors nationwide upswing
The poor economy is downplayed as a factor for enlistment gains
By Gregg K. Kakesako
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Mar 14, 2010
For Army recruiters the numbers are up.
“Last year was a banner year for us,” says Maj. Gen. Donald Campbell, head of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, headquartered at Fort Knox, Ky.
In signing up 93,729 soldiers, Army recruiters recorded 107.1 percent of their goal of 87,500.
In Hawaii the numbers were equally high.
Maj. Brian Blitch, who commands the Honolulu recruiting company, said the 51 active Army and Army Reserve recruiters working out of the federal building surpassed their goal of 658 soldiers by enlisting 675.
Of that number, 481 were signed up for the active Army, while 194 chose the Army Reserve.
So far this year, Army recruiters here are 133 percent ahead of their assigned mission of enlisting 237 new soldiers this quarter.
Campbell, who is completing a two-week tour of the Asia-Pacific area after assuming command 10 months ago, told reporters last week while high unemployment contributes to recruiting, he would rather credit his soldiers and their families for exceeding recruitment goals.
“I don’t like to give the economy a lot of the credit like some of the experts do,” Campbell added. “I give the credit to the noncommissioned officers who are recruiters for us, our Army civilians, contractors and families who tell the Army story and help us recruit.”
Blitch’s company of recruiters in Hawaii ranks sixth out of 244 companies in the Army’s recruiting system.
Besides the economy and the efforts of the recruiters here, Campbell said the “large military presence” in the islands contributes to the success.
“Service to country resonates with young men and women today, and that’s what we are seeing,” he said.
Lt. Col. Rodney Laszlo, professor of military science at the University of Hawaii’s Army ROTC program, said that for the first time in a decade, this year’s commissioning ceremony of 30 new second lieutenants will take place at the Waikiki Shell because the graduating class is so large. The ceremony is May 17. There are actually 40 senior Army ROTC cadets, but some have already been commissioned, he added.