Who Signs Up to Fight? Makeup of U.S. Recruits Shows Glaring Disparity – The New York Times
This was not always the case. Military service was once spread fairly evenly — at least geographically — throughout the nation because of the draft. But after the draft ended in 1973, enlistments shifted steadily south of the Mason-Dixon line. The military’s decision to close many bases in Northern states where long winters limited training only hastened the trend.
Today, students growing up in military communities are constantly exposed to the people who serve. Moms pick up their sons from day care in flight suits. Dads attend the fourth-grade holiday party in camouflage. High schools often have Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps programs in which students wear uniforms to class once a week and can earn credit for learning about science, leadership and fitness through a military framework.
Many schools encourage students to take the military’s aptitude exam, the ASVAB, in the way students nationwide are pushed to take the SAT.
That exposure during school is one of the strongest predictors of enlistment rates, according to a 2018 report by the Institute for Defense Analyses.
In Colorado Springs, the high schools with the highest number of military families are also the biggest producers of recruits, Sergeant Comes said, adding that parents aware of the military’s camaraderie, stability and generous health, education and retirement benefits often march their children into his office and encourage them to join.
“We just tell them our story: ‘This is where I was, one of six kids living in a trailer. This is where I am today.’ Good pay check. Great benefits,” he said, adding that even in good economic times, it is an easy sell. His recruiting station made its goals handily this month.
His biggest challenge is finding recruits before they are scooped up by recruiters from the Air Force, Navy and Marines, who work the same fertile neighborhoods.
This content was originally published here.