TOLEDO, Ohio — Cpt. Jonathan Bourquin is the company commander for Toledo Recruitment for the U.S. Army and has a decade-long resume with the military. In his time with the Army though, he said recruitment this past year has been the toughest, mostly due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"A lot of high schools shut down," Bourquin said. "Recruiters were not able to get into schools and actually make those connections with students and faculty really for the last two years."
The United States Army only met 75% of its fiscal year recruitment goal.
Bourquin said other factors besides COVID-19 caused hurdles for recruitment.
He said only about 25% of teens and young adults qualify to serve.
"Medical issues, moral issues, or run-ins with the law, or aptitude, being able to pass the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test)," Bourquin said.
Earlier this year, Brigadier General John Cushing from the U.S. Army Recruiting Command spoke with CBS about the sign-on bonuses introduced to try to recruit more soldiers.
"This is an incentive, in terms of dollar amounts, that we have never seen but we're ready to compete for that talent," Cushing said.
Depending on the position and length of time members join, it could be up to a $50,000 bonus.
So, what's the solution?
Bourquin said the Army is focused on getting back into schools and spreading the word to students. The U.S. Army had a booth Thursday inside Waite High School in Toledo.
A hands-on education course for students who don't meet the academic standards to join has also been put into place.
"We started what's called the future soldier preparatory course, so if we have young people that don't qualify off the bat, academically, to pass the test, if they're in a certain range, we can still put them through this program," Bourquin said.
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