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Valley air reservists enlist help from schools to boost recruitment

WARREN — A recruiting slump has trickled into every branch of the military. So, members of the 910th Airlift Wing from the Youngstown Air Reserve Station gathered administrators from schools across Trumbull County to talk about the issue.

They met Tuesday at the Trumbull County Educational Service Center.

“As an educator and a veteran who served at the 910th Youngstown Air Reserve Station, we are proud to help facilitate these important conversations between our military and the education community. Recognizing the importance of the 910th, we look forward to strengthening these important relationships,” said Robert Marino, the service center’s assistant superintendent.

Lt. Jessica Strumbly said she hopes to increase recruitment. She talked about the military installations that can be found across the country and the important role they play in keeping Americans safe at home.

“It’s very important that not only are we looking to project that power so that conflict stays over there, but we’re also there to help people and help those communities to try to better those countries,” Strumbly said.

Last year, the U.S. Army was the only major active service not to meet its target for recruitment, falling short by about 15,000 soldiers, according to military officials.

The U.S. Navy missed its reserve goal; the U.S. Air Force hit its active goal by a slim margin while missing its reserve and guard goal; and the U.S. Coast Guard has missed its recruiting goal over the past four years

Physical and mental health are two of the biggest barriers to getting people into the military, Jackson noted

Statistics from Johns Hopkins Research state 56 percent of young adults, ages 18 to 25 years old, are overweight. Another shows 1 in 4 recruiting-age Americans have a mental health issue that denies them military entry.

Jackson encouraged school officials to consider administering the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery in schools.

“This is a goal for recruiters. You administer the ASVAB, then release the information to us to allow us to have the high school list for your seniors to contact them,” Jackson said. “Give them the chance to say no to us.”

Also, Jackson stressed the importance of having an increased presence during lunch and classroom visits as another means of reaching students.

“Classroom presentations would be the cherry on top,” Jackson said. “A lot of your students are too afraid to actually talk about the nitty-gritty of how the military breaks down and how it benefits their life. Sometimes they need you to sit down and inform them how this works for them.”

Staff Sgt. Joshua Thomas, station commander for the Army and Army Reserve recruiting efforts in Warren, said the opportunity to get information out is vital.

“It creates more of a personalized presentation to show them the active duty or reserve component and show how it can help students stay in the local area, or get some practical job experience to be able to not go in debt for college education,” Thomas said.

cmcbride@tribtoday.com

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