Recession Means Recruiting Boom For Army

Pentagon ups recruitment bonuses
Army, Marine Corps up recruitment bonuses to bolster enlistment; uncle sam; pentagon, defense department

In downtown Dallas Friday, new recruits pledged to protect and defend their country.

They're just part of a growing number who found that in uncertain times, patriotism pays, CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers reports.

"Unemployment rates are [skyrocketing], and when you are looking at how bad unemployment rates are going, I think you find yourself going, 'What do I do now?"' said Army recruit James Stabile.

The troubled economy has even become part of the recruiters' arsenal. And the pitch may be paying off. The Army led all four branches of the military, exceeding recruiting goals.

And it's not just new recruits. The Army also surpassed its goal for retaining men and women already serving by 14 percent.

Kevin Bonds signed his re-enlistment papers Friday. The Sgt. First Class could have retired tomorrow after 20 years in the Illinois National Guard.

"Until the economy changes and turns turn around, I'm in for the long run," he said.

Sgt. Mathew Steen has also re-signed. He says patriotism means more than a paycheck, but admits the Army is a great place to prepare for any career.

"You've got good benefits, your medical, you've got your dental, and you're getting the skills to lead people," Steen said.

The military says the economic downturn is too recent to be the sole reason behind the recruiting surge - but acknowledges that it helps.

"What difficult economic times give us, I think, is an opening to make our case to people we might not otherwise have," said Undersecretary of Defense David Chu. "And if we make our case, I think we can be successful."

That success comes at a critical time for a military stretched between two wars, and for soldiers hoping to security their country - and their own economic futures.