Military enlistment down as recruiting stations close, go digital

Military officials are struggling to maintain recruitment numbers as the coronavirus pandemic closes enlistment stations nationwide.

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An image of a military recruitment station
Military recruitment station
(Chris Hondros/Getty)
Last Updated:
April 4, 2020 - 2:52pm

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Among the countless restaurants, retail shops and other hallmarks of American life that have temporarily shuttered during the coronavirus outbreak here, another industry is struggling to maintain its pre-pandemic numbers: Military recruiting stations. 

Social distancing measures, many of them mandatory in states across the country, have forced enlistment centers to close down, with officers in some cases taking their efforts to social media in the hope of continuing recruitment. Yet military officials are facing several hurdles in that respect, including a country facing the prospect of widespread unemployment and significant anxiety over the threat of coronavirus. 

One military official predicted to the Associated Press a “corrosive effect on our ability to have the numbers of people that we really need.” The Armed Services are hoping for several boosts to recruitment, such as the positive images of Navy ships floating to the rescue of beleaguered cities like New York and Los Angeles. 

Yet the closing down of enlistment stations will likely take a significant toll on recruitment numbers either way.  Also hindering the military is the near-nationwide closure of countless school systems, meaning recruiters can’t visit high schools to try and court graduating seniors into service. 

Officials are in some cases turning to websites like YouTube and Instagram, popular services with the target age demographics and one of the few reliable ways to reach potential recruits as many other avenues are cut off.