The U.S. Army has increased its maximum enlistment bonus to a record level as the military struggles with recruitment during the pandemic.
The new maximum bonus for highly skilled recruits who enlist for six years is now $50,000, up from the previous high of $40,000.
Maj. Gen. Kevin Vereen, who leads Army recruiting, told the Associated Press the competitive job market and complications of COVID-19 have impacted recent recruiting efforts.
“We are still living the implications of 2020 and the onset of COVID, when the school systems basically shut down,” Vereen said. “We lost a full class of young men and women that we didn’t have contact with, face-to-face.”
AP noted the Army’s annual recruiting goal was 57,500, with a similar goal for 2022.
“We’re in a competitive market,” Vereen added in the interview. “How we incentivize is absolutely essential, and that is absolutely something that we know that is important to trying to get somebody to come and join the military.”
Money is not the only factor influencing recruitment. Some potential Army recruits may have other concerns related to the military’s vaccine mandates or “woke” agenda.
The Daily Wire previously reported about a 2021 series of Army recruitment ads littered with progressive themes:
The U.S. Army has released a series of cartoon recruitment ads saturated with woke themes, such as advocating for LGBT issues, just days after the CIA caught flack for a similarly woke recruitment ad campaign.
One of the Army’s new video ads features an LGBT rights march as well as a lesbian wedding.
“This is the story of a soldier who operates your nation’s Patriot missile Defense Systems. It begins in California with a little girl raised by two moms,” a woman says as the video, titled “Emma,” begins.
“Although I had a fairly typical childhood — took ballet, played violin — I also marched for equality,” the woman says as the ad shows a cartoon of an LGBT rights march.
First it was the woke CIA ad, now it is a super-woke woke animated army recruitment ad featuring a lesbian wedding, an LGBT rights parade and women "shattering stereotypes" by joining the world's largest killing machine. pic.twitter.com/xDqP39EQei
— Alan MacLeod (@AlanRMacLeod) May 12, 2021
Earlier in January, Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz ripped President Joe Biden over the refusal to accommodate religious exemptions from the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, claiming he is “punishing” servicemembers.
“President Biden is wrong for punishing our Servicemembers over their religious freedom,” Cruz wrote.
“I am pleased to see a judge issued a stay against Biden’s authoritarian vaccine mandate,” he added.
President Biden is wrong for punishing our Servicemembers over their religious freedom.
I am pleased to see a judge issued a stay against Biden’s authoritarian vaccine mandate.
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) January 4, 2022
In mid-December, the Military Times reported, “More than 12,000 military service members refusing the COVID-19 vaccine are seeking religious exemptions, and so far they are having zero success.” The outlet noted that an overwhelming number of requests have been filed among the various branches of the Armed Forces:
Air Force officials initially said religious exemption requests would be answered in 30 days. But they have gotten more than 4,700 requests — far more than the other military services, and the logistics of the lengthy review process has made it difficult to meet that timeline. The Navy has received about 2,700 religious exemption requests, the Marine Corps has 3,100 and the Army about 1,700.
The vaccine mandate is also likely a factor for future recruits who may otherwise be interested in enlisting if exemptions could be more easily obtained.