One Hundred Years of Army Strong The Army Reserve officially turned 100 this week.
The milestone was marked by numerous celebrations throughout the command including a reenlistment ceremony for 100 soldiers
here on Capitol Hill.
On April 23, 1908, Congress created the Medical Reserve Corps later renamed the
Army Reserve, from a group of 160 doctors formed to provide the Nation with a reservoir of trained medical officers in times
of war. This important component has expanded significantly over the years and today nearly 190,000 individuals serve
in the Army Reserve.
Members of the Army Reserve have served in every major conflict since World War I and since
1990; Army Reservists have been deployed to support every American military operation, including peacekeeping and humanitarian
missions. The Army Reserve has compiled an impressive record of service and support over the past century to which NAUS
proudly salutes with a hearty "Hooah!"
WASHINGTON(AP) Need a down-payment for your home? Seed money to start a business? The Army wants to help _ if you're willing
to join up. Despite spending nearly $1 billion last year on recruiting bonuses and ads, Army leaders say an even bolder approach
is needed to fill wartime ranks.
Under a new proposal, men and women who enlist could pick from a "buffet" of incentives, including up to $45,000 tax-free
that they accrue during their career to help buy a home or build a business. Other options would include money for college
and to pay off student loans.
An Associated Press review of the increasingly aggressive recruiting offerings found the Army is not only dangling more
sign-up rewards _ it's loosening rules on age and weight limits, education and drug and criminal records.
It's all part of an Army effort to fill its ranks even as the percentage of young people who say they plan to join the
military has hit a historic low _ 16 percent by the Pentagon's own surveying _ in the fifth year of the Iraq war.
In June, the Army failed to meet its recruitment target for the second month in a row, although it apparently met its goal
to recruit 9,750 troops in July and is on target for 80,000 for the year that ends Sept. 30.
As part of a push to make its 2007 goals, the Army is boosting the size of its 8,000-member recruiting force with 1,000
to 2,000 assistants _ including some former recruiters.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants to increase the size of the active-duty Army by 65,000 to a total of 547,000 within
five years. In part, that's to ease the wartime strain on the Army, which is the largest branch of the military.
"Recruiting next year and beyond will remain challenging and will ... require additional innovative approaches," said Lt.
Col. Michael Rochelle, the Pentagon's deputy chief of staff for personnel. He asked lawmakers last week on Capitol Hill for
money to pay for the new program.
Rochelle described the latest offering as an updated version of the Army's college fund, a popular program started in 1982
to help soldiers pay for college.
The Army would like to start a pilot program targeting 500 people who might not otherwise considering joining. In the pilot,
the takers who complete a 4-year enlistment would be eligible for up to $30,000 in incentives _ including money for a home
loan or business. Eventually, the Army wants to offer up to $45,000.
Beyond the Iraq war, the military says other factors have affected its ability to recruit. More high school graduates are
going to college, and the economy is strong, providing lots of civilian jobs. At the same time, only three of 10 people between
17 and 24 fully meet the military's standards.
Less obvious factors have also decreased the recruitment pool. They include higher obesity rates, more people diagnosed
with mental health conditions such as attention-deficit disorder, more criminal citations due to the increase of the drinking
age from 18 to 21.
"The numbers of people who meet our enlistment standards is astonishingly low," said Michael Dominguez, principal deputy
undersecretary of defense.
Among the changes that have helped attract more recruits:
_ Increasing to $20,000 the bonus for troops who join by Sept. 30 and leave for boot camp within a month.
_ Raising the enlistment age to 42.
_ Allowing recruits to come in with non-offensive tattoos on their hands and neck.
_ Offering a $2,000 bonus to Army soldiers who refer a new recruit.
_ Enlisting recruits who don't meet weight standards and must trim down their first year.
_ Advertising that targets potential recruits' parents.
_ Increasing the number of recruits with general education diplomas rather than regular high school diplomas.
_ Creating a more pleasant boot camp environment.
_ Sending "gung-ho" soldiers fresh from boot camp or war zones back to their hometowns to visit old friends and schoolmates
to promote the Army.
_ Increasing to more than 15 percent the number of Army and Army Reserve troops given waivers for medical and moral reasons
or for positive drug and alcohol screen tests.
Tyka Pettey, 21, of Philadelphia, said she was fully aware of the risks when she signed up in late July for a six-year
stint in the Army Reserve. Doing so will help her pay to go to college in a medical field. With her $20,000 bonus, she plans
to buy a car and pay off debt.
She said she had been thinking about joining for more than a year. Once she made the decision, she said she was impressed
with how much the recruiters in Upper Darby, Pa., were able to help her.
"You really have to want to do something like that. You're really taking a major step from your civilian life ... but I
just decided to go for it," said Pettey, who leaves in about a week for boot camp.
The Army spent $353 million last year on enlistment bonuses, $583 million on recruiting and advertising and $700 million
on pay and benefits for recruiters, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said her organization is concerned that low-income
young people and minorities are targeted by recruiters and lured with promises into making decisions they would not otherwise
"I think as the incentives increase, the potential for misrepresentation and abuse increases," Lieberman said.
Irene Fiala, a sociology professor at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania who has researched recruiting trends, said the
military is attempting to change with society because the days are over when it was an American virtue to join and it was
expected that all young men would do so.
"Uncle Sam pointing his finger at you saying, 'We want you,' isn't cutting it for today's kids," Fiala said. "Today's kids
are saying, 'Yeah, you want me and so does GE and so does MIT, so what else are you going to offer me?'"
It's not just the attitudes of young people that have seemingly shifted. In 2005, statistical surveys revealed that because
of the Iraq war, adults who work with students were less likely to suggest joining the military.
"The willingness of coaches, teachers, counselors and parents to commend military service to America's youth is lower than
is good for our nation and our military," said Dominguez, the Defense Department official.
Associated Press writer Pauline Jelinek contributed to this report.
WASHINGTON(AP) Multiple new efforts aimed at stemming suicides
in the Army are falling short of their goal: The service anticipates another jump in the annual number of soldiers who killed
themselves or tried to, including in the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones.
As many as 121 soldiers committed suicide in 2007, an increase
of some 20 percent over 2006, according to preliminary figures released Thursday.
The number who tried to commit suicide or injured themselves
for some other reason jumped six-fold in the last several years _ from 350 in 2002 to about 2,100 incidents last year. Officials
said an unknown portion of that increase was likely due to use of a new electronic tracking system that is more thorough in
capturing health data than the previous system.
The increases come despite a host of efforts to improve the
mental health of a force that has been stressed by lengthy and repeated deployments to the longer-than-expected war in Iraq,
and the most deadly year yet in the now six-year-old conflict in Afghanistan.
"We have been perturbed by the rise despite all of our efforts,"
said Col. Elspeth Ritchie, psychiatry consultant to the Army surgeon general.
Those efforts include more training and education programs,
the hiring of more mental health professionals and the addition of screening programs launched after a succession of studies
found the military's peacetime health care system overwhelmed by troops coming home from the two foreign wars.
"We know we've been doing a lot of training and education,"
Ritchie told a Pentagon press conference. "Clearly we need to be doing more."
The preliminary figures on 2007 show that among active duty
soldiers and National Guard and Reserve troops that have been activated there were 89 confirmed suicides and 32 deaths that
are suspected suicides but still under investigation.
Less than a third of those who committed suicide _ about 34
_ happened during deployments in Iraq. That compared with 27 in Iraq the previous year. Four were confirmed in Afghanistan
compared with three there in 2006.
The total of 121, if all are confirmed, would be more than
double the 52 reported in 2001, before the Sept. 11 attacks prompted the Bush administration to launch its counter-terror
war. The toll was 87 by 2005 and 102 in 2006.
Officials said the rate of suicides per 100,000 active duty
soldiers has not yet been calculated for 2007. The 2006 toll of 102 translated to a rate of 17.5 per 100,000, the highest
since the Army started counting in 1980, officials said. The rate has fluctuated over those years, with the low being 9.1
per 100,000 in 2001.
That toll and rate for 2006 is a revision from figures released
in August. Officials earlier had reported that 99 soldiers had killed themselves in 2006 and two cases were pending _ as opposed
to the 102 now all confirmed. It's common for investigations to take time and for officials to study results at length before
releasing them publicly.
Ritchie said Thursday, as she did last year, that officials
are finding that failed personal relationships are the main motive for the suicides, followed by legal and financial problems
as well as job-related difficulties.
Long and repeated tours of duty away from home contribute
significantly in that they weigh heavily on family relations and compound the other problems, officials said.
"People don't tend to suicide as a direct result of combat,"
Ritchie said. "But the frequent deployments strain relationships. And strained relations and divorce are definitely related
to increased suicide."
With the Army stretched thin by years of fighting the two
wars, the Pentagon last year extended normal tours of duty from 12 months to 15 months and has sent some troops back to the
wars several times. The Army has been hoping to reduce tour lengths this summer. But the prospect could depend heavily on
what Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, recommends when he gives his assessment of security in Iraq and
troop needs to Congress in April.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a leading critic of the treatment
given returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, called the new figures "heart-wrenching."
"Until they come to grips with how long and frequent deployments
are straining soldiers and shattering lives we will continue to see this frightening trend," she said.
"And as the White House signals that there won't be any further
troop cuts beyond July, there is dwindling hope that things will turn around soon," she said.
Because of improved security in Iraq in recent months, the
administration has started to draw down extra troops sent last year. But Bush and commanders have been indicating reluctance
to continue cuts beyond July out of fear the fragile security gains could be lost.
Attached is the link to the Army documentary, "Army Medic: The Spirit of Courage" video that was "selected
1st place in the documentary category and first place overall in the 2008 Department of Army Visual Information Video
Production Awards Program. This documentary shares the history of a battlefield job, a job that has grown to become one
of the most honored of military occupations". Please take the time to view this historical documentary.
GAO report: Three bases fail to examine troops properly By Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON - One in 10 soldiers sent to Iraq and Afghanistan from three Army bases have
medical problems severe enough to significantly limit their ability to fight, according to a Government Accountability
Office study released Tuesday. Pressure to rush soldiers into war zones caused leaders at Forts Stewart and Benning
in Georgia, and Fort Drum, N.Y., to sometimes fail to assess health problems fully, the report says. The Army also lost
files or inconsistently rated the severity of medical problems, GAO says.
The study's release comes as the U.S. Central Command is proposing to add more medical
conditions that would keep troops from being sent to combat. USA TODAY reported in May that since 2003, 43,000 troops were listed
as medically unfit but were still sent into combat.
"The GAO report confirms that some soldiers have fallen through the cracks when the Army
failed to properly evaluate medical conditions," said Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
"Readiness requirements cannot be met by deploying injured or ill servicemembers when their health limitations should prevent
The largest numbers of physical ailments were musculoskeletal: herniated discs, back pain
and chronic knee problems.
FIND MORE STORIES IN: Afghanistan | Georgia | Army | Iraq | Government Accountability Office
| New York | House Armed Services Committee | Fort Drum | Rep. Ike Skelton The Army works to restrict the war-zone duties
of soldiers with medical problems, said Brig. Gen. Gina Farrisee, the Army's chief of personnel management. Also, she
said, the mistakes found by the GAO were too limited to suggest "a widespread problem."
Government investigators looked at troops deploying from the three forts between April
2006 and March 2007.
* Investigators estimate that 3% of all deploying soldiers from those bases had serious
physical problems requiring a medical board review to determine if they should change jobs or leave the Army; no such reviews were
* Medical profiles, or records describing how soldiers with injuries or illnesses should
be limited in their duties, were missing from about a third of those cases where soldiers had health problems.
* An estimated 7% of all deploying soldiers had medical problems that should have limited
their activity in the war zone, and yet they were under no such restrictions.
Commanders, the report says, said they "occasionally required their soldiers to perform
duties potentially exceeding the soldiers' medical limitations." This happened because a soldier's file was incomplete
or because "the soldier had special skills that were difficult to replace," the report says.
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