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All U.S. military branches are struggling to recruit, but only the Army misses its mark

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Young man in blue t-shirt with right hand raised stands across from his father who wears a camouflage uniform also with his right hand raised during an Oath of Enlistment ceremony.
Staff Sgt. Natalie Dillon/9th Marine Corps District
/
DVIDS
Daniel Hayek (left) takes his Oath of Enlistment from his father, Maj. Richard Hayek, the commanding officer of Marine Corps Recruiting Station Kansas City, before signing an active duty contract with the U.S. Marine Corps at Kansas City Military Entrance Processing Station in Kansas City, Mo., July 26, 2021. Daniel is poised to become a fourth-generation service member in his family, following the footsteps of his mother, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

Despite large monetary bonuses, the United States Army fell 15,000 people short of its recruitment mission. Residual effects of COVID-19, low unemployment and high standards have made it difficult for the military to recruit qualified applicants.

Even though recruiters disqualified 64% of the applicants they assessed, Marine Recruiting Station Kansas City has been able to meet its recruiting quota for fiscal year 2022. But finding qualified applicants didn't come easy.

One reason is low unemployment. But also, limited student-to-teacher interactions during COVID-19 closures affected applicants' ability to score well on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test, according to Maj. Richard Hayek, commanding officer of the Kansas City Recruiting Station.

Several of the military branches struggled to recruit, but the Army — the largest of the armed forces — is the only branch that was unable to meet its mission by the end of the fiscal year.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Elizabeth Ruiz is a freelance producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact her at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz
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