by Alexis Taylor
For New Pittsburgh Courier
(NNPA)—The Army has become significantly more selective about who it wants to serve as soldiers.
Last week’s announcement of tougher enlistment and re-enlistment requirements comes just weeks after an April announcement of tighter restrictions on tattoos, hair, and makeup came in April.
“During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army accepted soldiers with misdemeanors, medical problems, low test scores, and even some with felonies in order to meet the personnel requirements of two simultaneous conflicts,” said a statement released by the Army. “Now, these two conflicts are mostly over and with budget cuts the Army must downsize quickly.”
While in 2009 there were 546 recruits granted entry into the military whose previous misconduct was waived, that number fell to just 189 last year. The rules for aspiring soldiers are now even tougher on those with convictions. In 2009, 220 recruits were allowed to serve with blemishes on their legal records, in 2011 there were none.
Aside from ruling out persons who have had issues with law enforcement in the past, monetary bonuses have also been taken almost completely off the table.
There are now only six positions in the Army that qualify for monetary bonuses.
Soldiers in the fields of interpretation and translation, as well as medical laboratory specialists and divers are among the handful that will continue to be eligible for bonuses. Soldiers specializing in explosive ordnance disposal and those serving as cryptologic linguists also might qualify.
Though these soldiers will receive bonuses, they will be much smaller than those seen in the past. In 2008, bonus amounts peaked in the $16,000- $18,000 range with the Army alone paying nearly $860,000 in monetary incentives.
Now, bonus amounts range from $3,300 to $3,500 and in 2011, the Army awarded only $77,000 in bonus money.
At its height, the Army boasted an enlistment of 570,000, that number fell to 558,000 in March of this year, and Army officials expect it to drop even further as 35 percent of its personnel are expected to be pushed out by the tighter criteria.
Potential soldiers are encouraged to score as high as possible on the ASVAB, the basic assessment for the military, be in the best shape possible, and be flexible about job assignment to boost chances of acceptance.
(Special from the Afro American.)