Coast Guard struggles to find recruits to fill openings

Morning In America

(NewsNation) — The U.S. Coast Guard is projecting it will be 1,000 openings shy of its goal to fill 4,000 positions this year.

“I don’t envy anyone in a recruiting station trying to recruit for any of the military branches right now,” national security expert David Hamilton said.

National security experts say about 75% of young Americans aren’t physically able to serve. The general population became more sedentary during the pandemic, and obesity is an ongoing problem.

Of those who are physically fit, only between 9% to 12% even even have a desire to enlist, Capt. Richter Tipton, who oversees Coast Guard recruiting, told NewsNation local affiliate WOODTV.

Still, the Coast Guard is doing better than other military branches. For instance, the Army has only met 40% of its recruiting goal.

“If it’s really hard to get you to work at a high-paying job where you might not get shot at, it’s probably gonna be harder to get you to work at a lower-paying job where you do get shot at,” Hamilton said.

To make the Coast Guard more attractive, new members can earn a $2,000 signing bonus just by joining. Depending on one’s skill level, that offer can increase to between $10,000 and $40,000, WOODTV reported.

It’s one of many incentives that the Coast Guard is trying out right now to attract the best talent.

Jason Beardsley, national executive director of the Association of the U.S. Navy, said the problems the Coast Guard is having recruiting are really “systemic to our society right now.”

“We’ve lost a couple of wars, we had a terrible withdrawal from Afghanistan —the overall esprit de corps, the spirit of the body of the American constituency, if you will, has been really under racked pain and tension over the last four and five years,” he said. “You see politicians leaning into these fights with rhetorical devices that divide people up. That’s not the best way to recruit in an environment, especially when you’re racking up losses on the big board.”

Beardsley said he would like to go back to the old style of recruiting, where, “You have to put the mission first.”

It’s always going to be tough to join the military, he said. That’s what physical training is for.

“People are capable of doing it, if we take the time, and we bring in the right kind of mindset,” Beardsley said. “If you grab a hold of the military service, and you take ownership over what you want to do, you can make it work for you. But if you’re waiting for the military to do something great for you, or for someone to come down and treat you like some sort of top-talent recruit going into the NFL, it’s going to be a long, hard ride.”

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