The success of Operation Desert Storm has given the armed services a new prestige and popularity. But while local recruiting officials say they've seen evidence of a heightened interest in the military, they haven't had a major increase in recruits signing up.
A total of 19 men and women enlisted through the Lawrence Army recruitment office in January, short of the Army's goal of 33, and 25 people signed up in February, short of a goal of 35, said Maj. Leroy Stevens, executive officer of the Kansas City Recruitment Battalion, which administers dozens of recruiting offices in western Missouri and most of Kansas, including the Lawrence office.
The Lawrence figures are down from the same months in 1990, when 48 recruits signed up in January, and 32 signed up in February, he said.
However, Stevens said Lawrence has a relatively small recruiting office, and that low numbers of recruits here were being offset by higher numbers in Topeka and the Kansas City area.
"I think we've got a slightly higher number of inquiries overall," Stevens said.
HE SAID recruiting offices had a large increase in calls at the start of the Persian Gulf war from former servicemen and servicewomen who asked about re-enlisting.
"In December and January, a lot of our inquiries came from people who had already served and were wanting to know if they could get back in," he said.
But after the decisive U.S. victory over Iraq a few weeks ago, Stevens said, the Army has had an increase in calls from high school seniors and recent high school graduates.
"I think one of the reasons is that young people want to be on a winning team," Stevens said. "I think you can take guys like stormin' Norman (Schwarzkopf) and see how they might be replacing guys like Bo Jackson, when you think about leaders."
THE LAWRENCE Army recruitment office, 2223 La., has two full-time recruiters and two Army Reserve recruiters, Stevens said.
That's a relatively small staff compared with recruiting offices in Kansas City or Wichita, which may have as many as four full-time recuiters and a number of Army Reserve recruiters, he said.
This year's recruitment figures at the local Air Force and Marines offices are mixed.
Three people signed up in January, none in February and five were on line to sign up as of Saturday, said Staff Sgt. Michael Kline, recruiter at the local Air Force office, 23rd and Louisiana.
The Air Force had a goal to recruit three people each of those months, Kline said.
Figures for the same months last year were not available, he said.
Marine Staff Sgt. Carl Foster said three people signed up in January, four in February and none have signed up so far this month, Foster said. The local Marine office also is located at 23rd and Louisiana.
The Marines also had a goal to recruit three people for each of those months, he said.
"It's been up and down for all the different branches," said Foster, adding that despite no local signups in Lawrence this month, the Marines have already topped recruiting goals for March in eastern Kansas.
Foster said he did not have local recruiting figures for last year.
Ingrid Mueller, public affairs officer at the Navy district recruiting office in Kansas City, Mo., said recruiting rates may vary with individual offices but that overall the Navy has seen an increase in the number of inquiries and recruits this month. No Lawrence figures were available.
"In December and January we had a decline," Mueller said. "But since then we've had a big increase."
THE NAVY'S district recruiting office in Kansas City administers 31 recruiting offices in Kansas and western Missouri, including the office in Lawrence.
Mueller and Stevens said the Navy and the Army have exceeded or will exceed recruitment goals for the first part of the year in their areas of administration.