What a week for the Marines Corps: Remembering one of its most storied moments, the Iwo Jima flag raising; trying to figure out why its suicide rate is up; and shelling out big bucks to keep the ranks full.
The New York Times, among others, reports on the Marine Corps offering big re-enlistment bonuses as recruiting gets tougher. The drop in recruitment is due partly to lack of enthusiasm for “Crazyworld,” as some soldiers have been known to call Iraq, and partly to the fact some troops who would normally be doing recruiting have been sent to war zones instead.
In a reflection of the difficult market for Marine recruiters, the service offers bonuses of up to $35,000 to retain combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
What is unusual about these incentives is that the Marines Corps for the first time is offering re-enlistment bonuses, averaging $20,000, to its most junior infantrymen, rather than relying mainly on inexperienced troops fresh from boot camp to replenish the infantry. About 75 percent of enlisted marines leave the service after their first tour, requiring a steady stream of recruits moving through training centers in San Diego and Parris Island, S.C.
The reports on the bonuses include this priceless quote from Marine Corps commandant General Michael W. Hagee: “We need infantrymen. That’s what we’re using over there on the ground.”