The United States Armed Forces, the strongest and most powerful military in the world, are in a state of flux as recruitment faces catastrophic rates — the lowest recruitment rates in fifty years.

President Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan opened many Americans’ eyes back in 2021. According to the Associated Press, the Army fell about 15,000 soldiers short of its usual 60,000 recruitment goals. It’s not just the Army, the National Guard and the Navy met 10 percent of their goals, while the Marine Corps came in at just 30 percent of its own.

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“[There] could be multiple reasons,” actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise said in an interview with Fox News. “I know what happened in Afghanistan was very eye-opening. That wasn’t helpful at all … [it was] very difficult on many, many veterans who had served there multiple times over the last 20 years. I think that was harmful.” You may recognize Sinise from the Academy Award winning film Forrest Gump — he played Lieutenant Dan, a Vietnam war veteran who lost both of his legs because of a mine blast. If Lieutenant Dan is chiming in, then you know it’s real.

The current recruitment rates have been the worst since the institution of the all-volunteer force in 1973. Despite hefty enlistment bonuses of up to $50,000, and the ability to choose their first duty station, recruiting numbers have failed to improve.

What are some possible solutions? Rather than focus on “wokeness” recruitment messages, highlighting the importance of service as well as a sincere interest and care on the military’s mental and physical well-being — including better resources for war veterans upon returning from deployment is a solid option — would possibly increase enrollment.

Pay and benefits should absolutely remain a factor in recruiting young Americans, as well as school tuition being taken care of. Job security is always a worry for long-standing veterans who have spent years fighting for our country. Securing a future upon a mission’s competition would make anyone willing and proud to risk their lives for the same nation promising to take care of them no matter what.

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