|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Army to expand recruiting incentives
WASHINGTON --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.
"African-Americans detest this war," Black said yesterday in a phone interview. "Everybody kind of knows the truth behind this war. It's a cash cow for the military defense industry, when you look at the money these contractors are making. African-Americans saw this at the beginning of the war and now the rest of the country has figured it out. It's not benefiting us in the least."
Asked about the reference to an "oilman's war," Black said, "It's basically about oil, basically about money. It's an economic war." He said veterans are saying they are tired and burned out. "Guys are saying we're halfway around the world fighting people of color under the guise of democracy and we can't see how it's benefited anyone," Black said. "It's hard to fight halfway around the world for people's freedom when you're not sure you have it at home."
Black said that he still believes "without a shadow of a doubt" that the military still provides one of the best opportunities for African-Americans to advance in a nation where civilian opportunities remain checkered. But he said the military may underestimate how young people are absorbing the horrific images in Iraq's chaos. Pentagon officials largely attribute the drop in African-American interest in the armed forces to "influencers," parents, coaches, ministers, and school counselors who urge youth not to enlist.
"I think some of that is true," Black said. "But I taught ROTC in high school, and the kids themselves are a lot smarter about this stuff. They see the news and they can't justify going into a fight for something they have no faith in."