Historic U.S. Army recruitment effort increase underway
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - The United States Army is seeking thousands of new recruits soon. News 5 has learned the Army needs 6,000 additional active duty soldiers and 1,500 reservists by the end of September. Ian Herrin, 27, always had a feeling he wanted to serve his country. With several family members with military service, he started his own enlistment process in December of 2015. "I'm older than the average guy who comes in this door, 27 years old, if we're going to do this, we need to do it. I also knew, if you don't give it a shot, if you don't try you're going to regret it," Herrin said. The ETSU graduate and Johnson City native will leave for basic training in April. Herrin said, "I'm trying to get as much stuff done with family and friends and everything here as much as I can until it's time to go. We're closing in on the last month." Under the National Defense Authorization Act, this is the largest in-year mission increase in the recruiting command's history. The local army recruiting battalion out of Nashville, which covers much of Tennessee, Kentucky, and parts of southwest Virginia, will see an increase in recruits from 1,673 to 1,854 in active duty and 391 to 394 in Army reserve. "We meet with them once a week, get them ready physically and mentally for the rigors of basic combat training," Staff Sgt. Tyler Kerr said of the program designed to work with future soldiers. There are currently four recruiters in the office in Johnson City. Last year, the office enlisted 34 for active duty and 14 reservists. Soldiers here tell us they do not expect a problem reaching the new goal due to people in the area wanting to serve. The Army has added new incentives, including a bonuses of up to $40,000 and changes in enlistment options. "One of those being the two-year enlistment option, one of those being they can enlist in the regular Army for two years, then they will go into the reserve force for four years," Kerr said. Although this is a rigorous recruiting effort, the Army stresses the standards for enlistment will not change. You might be surprised how many do not qualify for the Army. According to their data, only 29 percent of youth meet physical and mental qualifications.