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Archive for Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Poor economy leads soldiers to re-enlist

Sgt. Ryun Nyhus re-enlists during a ceremony at Fort Riley, Kan., Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008. He spent 14 months patrolling the deadly streets of Baghdad, where five members of his platoon were shot and one died. As bad as that was, he would rather go back there than take his chances in this brutal job market.

Sgt. Ryun Nyhus re-enlists during a ceremony at Fort Riley, Kan., Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008. He spent 14 months patrolling the deadly streets of Baghdad, where five members of his platoon were shot and one died. As bad as that was, he would rather go back there than take his chances in this brutal job market.

December 3, 2008

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— Sgt. Ryan Nyhus spent 14 months patrolling the deadly streets of Baghdad, where five members of his platoon were shot and one died. As bad as that was, he would rather go back there than take his chances in this brutal job market.

Nyhus re-enlisted last Wednesday, and in so doing joined the growing ranks of those choosing to stay in the U.S. military because of the bleak economy.

“In the Army, you’re always guaranteed a steady paycheck and a job,” said the 21-year-old Nyhus. “Deploying’s something that’s going to happen. That’s a fact of life in the Army — a fact of life in the infantry.”

Young people re-enlisting

In 2008, as the stock market cratered and the housing market collapsed, more young members of the Army, Air Force and Navy decided to re-up. While several factors might explain the rise in re-enlistments, including a decline in violence in Iraq, Pentagon officials acknowledge that bad news for the economy is usually good news for the military.

In fact, the Pentagon just completed its strongest recruiting year in four years.

“We do benefit when things look less positive in civil society,” said David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. “What difficult economic times give us, I think, is an opening to make our case to people who we might not otherwise have.”

The retention rate of early-career soldiers in the Army has risen steadily over the past four years and now stands 20 percentage points higher than it was in fiscal 2004. As for the Navy and the Air Force, early- and mid-career sailors and airmen re-enlisted at a higher rate in October than during the same period in 2007. The Marine Corps was not immediately able to provide comparative figures on re-enlistments.

‘A stable life’

Alex Stewart joined the Army two years ago, when the factory where he worked as a welder started laying off. He was sent to Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division, which suffered 87 deaths last year, the highest total suffered by the 20,000-member unit since the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan began.

When his hitch was up earlier this year, the 32-year-old from Grand Rapids, Mich., didn’t hesitate to re-up for five more years.

“I want a stable life for my wife in a very shaky economy,” Stewart said. “There were no other options.”

Stewart’s new assignment will take him to Germany, where he will serve as a truck driver, though it is always possible he could be sent back into combat.

“I figure if I do another five or 10 years in the Army,” he said, “the economy will turn around and I can get a truck-driving job.”

Army Spc. Alicia Fauls, 20, of The Woodlands, Texas, had two years to go when she re-enlisted last week at Fort Riley, home of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, which has one brigade in Iraq, one headed home and another preparing to ship out.

She has not been sent into the war zone yet but knows an assignment in Iraq or Afghanistan is probably in her future.

“I did have only two years left, but I’m not sure what I would do,” Fauls said. “It’s harder to find jobs. If I do wait to get out, the economy should be in better shape.”

‘Equivalent pay is nonexistent’

When Nyhus’ tour in Iraq ended last April, he talked to his wife about getting out of the Army and working toward a college degree. But the father of a 2-year-old daughter opted for the job security, even though he is likely to be sent back to Iraq as a member of the 4th Infantry Division, which has shouldered a heavy burden of the fighting.

Marine Staff Sgt. Angela Mink, who was injured in a helicopter accident in Iraq in 2004 and now works in public affairs at the Corps’ New River air station in North Carolina, said the thought of taking a civilian job “without my fellow Marines just didn’t appeal to me.” Moreover, she had little hope of finding a private-sector job that pays as well as the Marines.

“Equivalent pay is nonexistent, once you factor in insurance premiums, housing costs,” said Mink, 37. “And we would definitely have had to relocate. I have a child with a disability, and what civilian employer is going to take that into consideration when they think of moving you somewhere?”

And so the married mother of five signed up recently for four more years.

Trouble for veterans

Roughly 208,000 men and women left the military in 2007. Some were rank-and-file warriors, while others worked in specialized fields such as satellite communications or computer networking. Only about 30 percent of enlisted soldiers hold a bachelor’s degree.

The job market is still fairly good for veterans with technical skills, especially those coveted by defense contractors, said Carl Savino, a retired Army major who runs a company outside Washington that offers employment services to new veterans.

Sgt. Michael Rodriguez, 29, of San Antonio, decided to get out after he landed a job with a defense contractor working on communications systems. “I feel pretty secure with them,” said Rodriguez, who will leave the military soon.

But even defense-contractor jobs could dry up as the economic crisis deepens, Savino said.

“Jobs are getting harder to come by for veterans,” Savino said. “The farther they deviate from the defense contractors, who are still in reasonably strong shape, the more challenging it is.”

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Yet more evidence that a bad economy is good for the cannon-fodder industry.

gdsacco 6 years, 2 months ago

Why isn't this headline:"Illegal Immigration leads soldiers to re-enlist."Regarding cannon fodder, bozo, were American soldiers more likely to die from accidents or cannon fire in Iraq last month?

50YearResident 6 years, 2 months ago

$20,000 and $30,000 re-enlistment bonus makes a lot of people re-inlist. We are buying our Armed Forces with bribes. The sky is the limit with this administration!

RobertMarble 6 years, 2 months ago

50yearidiot, you'd be better served to just make an overt anit-military comment than trying to distort facts in such a brain dead manner. I understand there are plenty of you mentally challenged folks out there with a strong phobia or hatred for the Military, but get real about it. To equate a paycheck or bonus to a bribe is just plain stupid. Judging by your viewpoint it's entirely probable that you've never earned a paycheck or bonus for anything, so you probably didn't know the difference. Now you know. As for the sensless attempt at a Military bashing- I just hope you shoot your mouth off like that around a veteran someday. You'll be picking your teeth up off the floor.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 2 months ago

When bozo decides to remove himself from the protection of the military that he runs down at every chance, let's all go to the train station to wave bye-bye as he starts his trip to Albania. It will be such jolly fun!

50YearResident 6 years, 2 months ago

RobertMarbile, I am a veteran. I served my time when the monthly pay was $74 and they didn't have to buy re-enlistments

RobertMarble 6 years, 2 months ago

50, I'm a 12 year Army veteran myself. Whether you had bonuses in your day or not doesn't change the situation; your Military bashing is especially disgraceful since you claim to be a vet. Bonuses are additional incentives, and are offered in peace time as well. Your slandering of that as "bribes" makes it quite obvious you have an anti military fixation. As a proud veteran who suffers from no such deficiency, I will rebuke you on that every time.

RobertMarble 6 years, 2 months ago

Exactly, Barry. I wonder if that's the real reason 50year is opposed to the idea.

RobertMarble 6 years, 2 months ago

very true. Sad that these folks feel so bitter that they need to take any opportunity to try bashing military & it's personnel.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm not opposed to bonuses for re-upping. I'm opposed to wasting their lives on wars of choice that do nothing to protect any of us, bankrupt the country, destroy respect for us around the world and more than likely decrease our security.

gdsacco 6 years, 2 months ago

"...more than likely decrease our security."Wow, imagine if we weren't in Iraq, we could cut the number of suicide bombings in this country over the last 5 1/2 years in half!Hey, what is .5 of naught?

Deja Coffin 6 years, 2 months ago

I know plenty of guys that re-enlist for the bonus. If that's what they want to do then let them.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Yea, and I'm sure they prevented us from being smashed by a million-ton asteroid, too.

Trobs 6 years, 2 months ago

I wanted to reenlist in 2006 when my time ended. I was not allowed. The Air Force informed me they needed to cut 44,000 airmen. Isn't that a joke? Mind you, my job had no bonus. I straight enjoyed the work.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

What a stupid comment, Informed. Just because I disagree with the way this country abuses its military and especially military personnel hardly means I "hate America."

BuffyloGal 6 years, 2 months ago

"Only about 30 percent of enlisted soldiers hold a bachelor’s degree" - I'm a bit confused. Isn't the whole selling point of the military that you can get a college education and be paid at the same time? Why isn't this stat then any different from the rest of the US population? With a BA or BS there are still plenty of jobs available for people who have already shown a dedication to hard work.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

You obviously aren't reading my posts, ese. I've said nothing disrespectful about the troops-- my disrespect is reserved for those who abuse them, and the folks here who approve of that abuse.

jaywalker 6 years, 2 months ago

"Just because I disagree with the way this country abuses its military and especially military personnel hardly means I “hate America.”That's hardly a 'stupid comment' from Informed, bozo. If you read again the comment was assessing your entire body of postings, not just this one. Therefore, a rather informed comment, Informed. Huh, looky there.And though you disagree with Iraq, saying this 'country abuses its military and especially military personnel' is woefully.. well.. uninformed.

gdsacco 6 years, 2 months ago

"I've said nothing disrespectful about the troops"Besides calling them "cannon fodder?"

gdsacco 6 years, 2 months ago

"Yea, and I'm sure they prevented us from being smashed by a million-ton asteroid, too."I'm unaware of any million ton asteroids that were near to smashing into earth, actually. I am aware, however, of several organizations that were prepared to attempt to commit violent attacks against civilians in this country, and yet have been strangely absent in this country. I am aware that these same organizations lost literally thousands of members in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, and some others were actually arrested, charged, and convicted of planning attacks on civilians in this country and Britain.Otherwise, yeah, your million ton asteroid analogy is right on.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

All you're lacking is some patriotic music and narration by John Wayne to make that drivel complete, informed.

gdsacco 6 years, 2 months ago

"Yet, somehow, you seem to not realize that."He realizes it, he just thinks we stole it, because of what his dad did for a living. Sad, really.

gdsacco 6 years, 2 months ago

"All you're lacking is some patriotic music and narration by John Wayne to make that drivel complete, informed."Actually, we are about to be swamped with patriotism, now that Hollywood can feel "really proud of their country" again."Obama: Renewing America's Promise"--Narrated by Sean Penn

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Just one example of the abuse that's heaped on the military because of stupid policies, from a member of the military--http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/28/AR2008112802242.html"I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It's no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me -- unless you don't count American soldiers as Americans."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

What does pride have to do with this? And how does my having a different opinion from yours mean that I "hate America." I could just as easily say that you hate America because you are so uncritical of its many boneheaded policies and actions.

RobertMarble 6 years, 2 months ago

Buffy, I'll address your confusion:I"'m a bit confused. Isn't the whole selling point of the military that you can get a college education and be paid at the same time? Why isn't this stat then any different from the rest of the US population? With a BA or BS there are still plenty of jobs available for people who have already shown a dedication to hard work" No, that is not the "whole selling point" of the Military, but it is one of many. Perhaps you're oversimplifying the idea though. You don't just enlist, then go straight to college full time for four years. Active duty Military is a full time job; you've got to take your classes around your duty schedule, just like you would if you were working full time in a civie job. That can be quite time consuming, and will take significantly longer than the 4 years it would typically take were you going to school full time to the exclusion of all else. Being deployed in a combat zone will quite naturally take precedence over non-military activities such as school, although the Military generally does a great job of still offering educational opportunities even then. But duty does come first. In some cases the opportunities are even better. As an incentive for one my re-enlistments I was able to take a semester off of work completely and attend school full time, and that incentive comes & goes depending on duty station, current mission, etc. The military does offer great educational benefits, but it is definitely mission first. Those who have even the slightest problem with that should avoid enlisting; your first duty is that of a Soldier. In addition to the benefits offered while on duty, the GI Bill is a great opportunity as well- and it is primarily used after leaving the service. Several years ago after I had left the Army I went to school full time & received over $1300 a month, non taxable income from the GI Bill. That's a pretty damn good income supplement for any student.bozo- Yes, you did make abusive & derogatory comments towards military personnel- the "cannon fodder" statement is a prime example. now that you're quickly back peddaling & denying it indicates you've realized the that you screwed up; at least you've realized that so you may have some potential after all. That is provided of course that you don't slip and actually make a comment like that when you're away from the safety of your keyboard and actually in the presence of a Military veteran who would justifiably slam your head through a wall.

RobertMarble 6 years, 2 months ago

This bit is either a misunderstanding of Military organization or a deliberate misdirection: "“Only about 30 percent of enlisted soldiers hold a bachelor’s degree”...OF COURSE only 30% of ENLISTED personnel hold a bachelors degree...that's actually much higher than I expected...the key here is the word "enlisted"...In the Military people with a bachelor's degree usually are commisioned as officers. So to display a low ratio of enlisted personnel having a 4 year degree is deliberately misleading. The closest analogy to civle occupations would be: officers are management, enlisted are the blue collar workers of the Military. Go reference the stats for civillians, what percentage of blue collar workers have 4 year degrees? I suspect the numbers are similar (just a guess here, I could be wrong about that). For the author to mention this statistic without explaining it is irresponsible and I suspect intentional.

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