ROCKFORD (WIFR) – The economy may be improving, but the job market still is tough, which is why more people are trying to join the military. However, new requirements are preventing many candidates from getting in.
18-year-old Ben Eisenberg of Beloit ships out to Fort Benning Army Base in Georgia, August 21st.
"I'm expecting it to be very physically demanding, very stressful, but very rewarding,” said Eisenberg.
As the U.S. begins pulling troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, more stringent requirements have been made in recruitment. The army currently requires applicants to have a GED, completed 15 hours of college credit, and cannot have any drug related violations on their record.
"One of the general perceptions that's out there, or has been in the past, is that the army is a last ditch effort. Go in the army or go to jail. That's definitely not the case anymore, we're looking for the best qualified to fill our ranks as a professional career,” said Captain Benjamin Bakken.
Though it may be harder to enlist for some, army representatives say the requirements are changing all of the time, depending on military needs.
"They change constantly, that's why we always say the best bet is to just come in and talk to a recruiter. They can tell you what's available at the time, what's waivable and what's not, as well as finding out what you are qualified for,” said Recruitment Head Capt. Bakken.
New recruit Ben Eisenberg says he hopes his army experience can help him land a job in the future. Recruiting representatives say they have seen many people come through to enlist, but couldn't give an exact figure of how many they were required to turn away.
Though we've heard that there has been a surge of college grads enlisting in the army, the Rockford-area recruitment office didn't have those numbers on hand.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense website, active duty recruitments in the Army for fiscal year 2011 were down more than 15,000 since fiscal year 2006, or about a 20 percent decrease. Meanwhile, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force's numbers remained stable.