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Military steps up recruitment as summer ‘surge’ starts

Zach Majeski always knew he wanted to enlist in one of the five branches of the U.S. military.

Majeski, 17, of Springboro, joined a nuclear engineering program in the U.S. Navy months before he graduated from high school in May and became a sailor quickly following his graduation.

“All the way up to the day he left he was excited,” Brian Majeski said of his son. “He couldn’t wait. He was meant for it.”

Not all recruits are like Majeski and recruiters are constantly looking at new tactics to attract young men and women to the military as they push for more servicemembers.

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To attract new soldiers, the Army has added 400 recruiters and plans to spend $400 million on bonuses for recruits, Lt. Gen. Thomas Seamands told several media outlets earlier this year. The average bonus is about $12,000.

Last year, the Army paid $424 million in bonuses, up from $284 million in 2016 and a mere $8.2 million in 2014, Seamands said.

Brian Majeski of Springboro with his sons, Zach Majeski, left, and Evan Majeski. Zach joined the Navy in June and Evan will join the Army in 2019. (Staff Writer)

Summer is a peak recruitment season for the military and recruiters are already out at different festivals and events trying to connect with young men and women interested in serving in the military.

Meeting area residents and informing them about the military is one of the most helpful tactics recruiters have available to them when trying to generate interest in serving, said 1st Class Petty Officer Jeff Welbaum, who works for a Navy recruiting officer near Vandalia.

“I’ve seen 37 countries in my life…I don’t believe I’d be where I am without the opportunities the Navy has given me,” Welbaum said. “It’s a good way to get your life jump-started.”

The Navy recently launched a number of new initiatives to attract recruits, including bonuses for people with college credit, increasing the amount of money awarded in a typical enlistment bonus and increasing the age limit to 39-years-old, among other things, said Navy recruitment spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Jessica L. McNulty. The Navy is on track to meet its active duty recruitment goal of 39,000 for fiscal year 2018, McNulty said.

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Giving people the chance to come up and ask questions at public events is the most effective way to recruit potential soldiers, said 1st Sgt. Michael Richardson of the U.S. Army’s Dayton Recruiting Company. With events like the Dayton Air Show just a few weeks ago and recent grads looking for opportunities, summer is the perfect time of year for recruiters, Richardson said.

“Every summer is always kind of big,” Richardson said. “With schools getting out there’s a little bit more of a surge.”

Each branch of the military sets recruitment goals and leaders of the branches have publicly said they want to add more to their ranks over the next several years.

The U.S. Air Force has a recruiting goal of expanding its active-duty force to 350,000 Airmen by 2024, according to Military.com.

This year the Air Force has asked all Airmen to get creative with recruitment. The Air Force currently has a contest asking Airmen to create a recruitment video that showcases their involvement, according to Staff Sgt. Chip Pons.

The U.S. Coast Guard has a goal of recruiting 3,700 enlisted active duty, 650 reservists, and over 250 college graduates to serve as officers. The Coast Guard will likely come up a little short of its reserve goal and is looking for people who want to work on electronics or have law degrees, among several other positions available.

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The Army recently revised its recruiting goal from 80,000 active duty solders to 76,500, Sgt. Maj. Daniel Dailey told the ArmyTimes. To make up for the lower goal, the Army has convinced more experienced soldiers to stay on active duty.

Engaging students during their last year of high school is key when it comes to recruitment, said Capt. Tom Walsh Jr. of the Coast Guard Recruiting Command.

“Ideally, we would like to connect with students early in their last year of school. It does take some time to get through the recruiting process,” Walsh Jr. said.

That tactic worked out well for the Navy which snagged Majeski due to his involvement in the Air Force’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps while he was still in school.

Brian Majeski dropped his son off at a Middletown recruiter’s office on June 25. The younger Majeski headed from the office to Columbus for a night and was then flown to boot camp.

Though his father Brian Majeski knew his son would likely join the military as far back as four or five years ago, he’s still worried about him embarking on what he sees as a potentially dangerous career. But, he still thinks his son made the right decision.

“I’m nervous but I’m proud,” Brian Majeski said. “You never know what’s going to pop off in our country or any other country but I couldn’t be more proud.”

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