The U.S. Army is offering its largest enlisting bonus ever to entice recruits to join for six years, as the service struggles to hire skilled recruits amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Army Recruiting Command announced in a press release on Wednesday that a bonus of up to $50,000 will be given to qualified individuals who sign on for a six-year active-duty enlistment.
Previously, the maximum bonus for new full-time recruits was capped at $40,000, it said.
Maj. Gen. Kevin Vereen, head of Army Recruiting Command, said that due to significant challenges faced by recruiters during the pandemic, the Army is hoping that the service’s largest ever bonus will entice qualified recruits to sign up long-term.
“We are still living the implications of 2020 and the onset of COVID, when the school systems basically shut down,” Vereen said. “We lost a full class of young men and women that we didn’t have contact with, face-to-face.”
The Army Recruiting Command said in its release that the bonus new recruits receive will be based on a combination of incentives offered for the selected career field, individual qualifications, length of the enlistment contract, and the ship date for training.
“The Army is competing for the same talent as the other services, as well as the private sector, and must have the ability to generate interest in the current employment environment,” according to Vereen.
“This is an opportunity to entice folks to consider the Army,” Brig. Gen. John Cushing, who serves as deputy commanding general for operations under Vereen, said in a statement. “We’ve taken a look at the critical (military occupational specialties) we need to fill in order to maintain the training bases, and that is where we place a lot of our emphasis.”
Two years of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic has made it more difficult to recruit in schools and at public events, and the competition for quality workers has intensified as young people weigh their options.
Some, said Vereen, are taking what he calls a gap year, and “are making the decision that they don’t necessarily need to work right now.”
“We’re in a competitive market,” Vereen said. “How we incentivize is absolutely essential, and that is absolutely something that we know that is important to trying to get somebody to come and join the military.”
“We want to promote the value of serving your country first,” he added. “But we also know that, this generation and I guess, human nature, you know, it’s all about compensation, too.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.