Army's recruiting bonus increases enlistment

With the military spread thin between Iraq and Afghanistan, branches are looking for incentives to get people to join.  And, it looks like the Army may have picked a winner.  Their "Quick Ship" Program began on July 25th of this year and so far it's been beneficial.  More than ninety percent of those who have enlisted since it was enacted have taken this new bonus.

A few months ago, a local Army Recruiting Center was in a slump, desperate to meet their tough enlistment goals for May and June.  But this new incentive brought their quotas back up.  According to the "Quick Ship" Program, if a potential soldier enlists before September 30th, he or she gets $20,000.  The catch is, sometimes they will start training within days of enlisting.  But, it's an incentive many are still taking advantage of.  "We've increased about fifteen thirty percent. I would say on the general it's about 30 to 35 people," said Staff Sgt. Finch.  In fact, Finch's son is one of the newest recruits - he just started basic training and received his own bonus.  Sgt. Finch recently spoke to his son on Sunday.  "He was doing excellent.  He said he was in his uniform and he was very proud to serve the United States Army. I said I'm very proud too," he said.

Some experts say that this could pose some problems for the Army in upcoming months since some of those who may have helped fill the quotes later in the year have signed up early.  But Finch says he doesn't see a problem.  He says that there are other incentives to keep potential recruits interested.  Although the cutoff is set to change on September 30th, it's not set in stone.  The Army could decide to continue it in order to recruit more soldiers.  Some critics of the program say it trades quality for quantity.  But, Finch disagrees.  "They're still screened very precisely.  They still have to go through the same procedures they had to go through if they didn't have the quick ship bonus," he said.

This signing bonus has increased $13,000 in the past three years and is the largest the Army has ever offered.  The Army's fiscal year ends September 30, 2007 they're hoping the extra cash will motivate more people to join.