WASHINGTON – One of the biggest misconceptions about the military is that it is an employer of last resort, recruiters say.
“If people can’t make it on the outside, they’re probably not qualified for the military,” said Michael Ignao, a Navy recruiter in Hyattsville.
With the end of the draft and the growth of technology during the last two decades, the recruiting process has become more selective – to the military’s benefit, said a historian.
“The technology of warfare has gotten more complicated,” said Dr. Bob Wright, a historian at the Center of Military History in Washington. “Entrance tests have gotten a lot more sophisticated.”
Potential recruits must have a high school diploma to be considered. Applicants must pass screening exams that test for math, reading and English skills, recruiters said.
Test scores determine if applicants qualify intellectually for the military, and if so, what jobs would suit them the best, recruiters said.
“We are no longer a dumpsite for society’s or the work force’s misfits,” said Kirk Alexander, a Navy recruiter in Hyattsville. “That’s just not the type of people we are looking for.”
The 60 Navy recruiters in Maryland have to contribute at least 983 new recruits to the Navy by October, said spokesman Scott Kalbach. “They’re going to be banging the streets and burning the phone lines,” he said.
Maryland recruiters met the same goal last year, making its recruiting district – which includes the District of Columbia, Delaware, Philadelphia, southern New Jersey, and a portion of West Virginia – the best in the Northeast.
Wright said the allure of the Navy makes recruiters’ jobs easier. “People are attracted to the glamour of the airplanes and ships,” he said. “It’s far more attractive than walking in the mud for the Army.”