Army Is Hurting For Recruits

At an Army recruiting station in San Antonio, Sgt. Alvindo Cuevas makes his pitch - enlist and the army will give you $50,000 toward a college education, CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin reports.

"So how does that sound, with $50,000 to help you out in college?" Cuevas asks a potential recruit.

"Yeah, that would help me out a whole lot," the young woman says.

"OK. Well let's get you started then," the sergeant suggests.

But right away, Cuevas runs into one of the many reasons the Army is facing a recruiting crisis.

"I'm afraid of running, running, running, exercising and all that . . People yelling at me and getting me up early in the morning and waking me up in the middle of the night," the young woman says.

Despite a relentless search for high school graduates, the Army could be down as many as 7,000 recruits this year.

The Army is currently in a battle with the booming American economy. The enemy is McDonald's and Burger King and all the other businesses hiring kids straight out of high school.

"They'd rather work at McDonald's or a minimum-wage job than to do something and leave home, 'cause that's scary for them," Cuevas explains.

Cuevas is a fixture at John Jay High School in San Antonio, which has one of the largest junior ROTC programs in the country. But most of the 9th graders aren't interested.

"I don't want to be in the Army," says student Brandon Griffin.

Another student, Jamonn Little, says the Army reminds him of "lots of pushups."

Even seniors who need the money for college are saying no.

"I figure if I were to join and use them to go to college I'll still owe them four years, so I don't feel like having to commit to anybody. I'd rather just go to school on my own," says senior Chris Owens.

The Army will go anywhere to find a new recruit. Sgt. Jill Guilfoyle put on her cowgirl best and headed for the rodeo.

"It's hard, going from month to month trying to find qualified recruits," Guilfoyle says.

She works the rodeo grounds just like a quarter horse - trying to cut a likely recruit from the herd. Only these days the horses are having more success.

Reported By David Martin.
©1999 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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