Ramping Up Army Recruitment in Reno - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Ramping Up Army Recruitment in Reno

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Adorning the wall at the U.S. Army Recruiting Station on east Moana Lane are the men and women who signed up in just the past 2 years…hundreds of locals who decided they had the makings of a soldier. 19-year old UNR student Austin Rutt ust might be the next one up there. As he told me, "There's a certain discipline I've always had. I did sports growing up, and I feel the Army could really just help reinforce that. Plus protect, serve and honor...I love all that."

If he says yes, he'll be joining another recruit that Staff Sgt. Jose Mora just signed up at his desk, after offering a good deal. Mora told me, "He's going to be a parachute rigger, and he got a $20,000 bonus."

Sgt. Mora knows it’s a good deal. He himself signed up 7 years ago, and learned how much more it can be: "I just wanted the GI Bill, which is basically the scholarship for college, but I liked the Army so much I stayed in and I've already re-enlisted twice. I came in here, and I didn't know there were different jobs."

Where would he like to serve? Anywhere, he says, the Army needs him. The east Moana station is one of 4 army recruitment offices in the area. Some do a little better than others, but all of them have been made responsible for increasing those recruitment numbers. As Sgt. First Class Steven Strickland told us, "It’s one of the largest increases we've had in Army recruiting."

Army recruiters in northern Nevada have a big order to fill. President Trump wants a stronger army with a goal of 16,000 new recruits in the U.S. this year. To put it bluntly, his office, and recruitment offices all over the country have to grow the Army larger in a short period of time. The rush to recruit stems from the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017.

Last year the Army dropped down to 460,000 people. The new president wants that number to be 476,000 in less than 8 months. The Army has to be ready with that number by October 1st this year. In this new push, prior service members are also being welcomed back. Clinching the deal, $200 million in incentive bonuses nationwide to kick up those numbers…up to $40,000 per recruit. Sgt. Strickland says, "That includes a cash bonus, the Montgomery GI Bill and tuition assistance for paying for school while they're in."

Despite the generous incentives, recruiting 16,000 still poses a challenge. Especially from 1 sad fact: only 29% of our nation's youth meet the mental and physical requirements of the military. Another challenge: the Army is competing more against colleges, and against the stronger job market…at the same time they’re trying to draw in the best of the best.

But the recruiters we talked to here said there's an increased respect for our armed forces, and that brings many recruits through the door. Sgt. Mora told me, "You know, there’s nothing but respect and praise from a lot of people. We really appreciate that."

Plus very good health care. As Sgt. Strickland said, "As a soldier on active duty, all health care is 100% covered for you and any dependents." Sgt. Mora agreed: "You know, if I got to the ER or the urgent care or the optometrist or dentist, it's all covered."

Many young people like Austin will benefit from the new sign-up drive. It's a good deal for him. He'll decide on an army career soon.  He has opportunities in Reno, but says the army has a bigger purpose for his life: "I want to get in the medical side of it. Hopefully I can become a surgeon, doctor. Save the boys over in Afghanistan...or bring them back over here, and I can save them here."

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