Recruiting the Recruiters

If finding volunteers for military service is tough, finding recruiters might be tougher, at least in the Army and Marine Corps. Only about 20 percent of Marine Corps recruiters and 40 percent of Army recruiters volunteer for the duty. The other 80 percent are "selected." Only in the Air Force do all recruiters volunteer.

In an effort to present the best possible image, the services attempt to find the best possible salespeople, those who are articulate, gregarious and successful. There are some rewards: To compensate for the irregular duty, which entails long hours and many frustrations, recruiters receive an extra $375 a month, they have much more autonomy than other military personnel and often can receive assignments near their hometowns. Navy recruiters receive sea-duty credit, entitling them to another shore assignment, which may account for the 90 percent volunteer rate of Navy recruiters.

The Defense Department has proposed legislation which would ease the burden on recruiters by giving them access to adult and juvenile criminal records and expand housing and financial benefits for recruiters and their families.

"Recruiting is alien to a Marine's experience," says Lt. Col. Joe Reich, assistant chief of staff for human resources at the Marine Corps Recruiting Command. "They didn't sign up to be salesmen."

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