DOD Improves Recruiting, Retention Efforts

By David Vergun

The military services are working hard to improve their recruiting efforts in spite of a variety of challenges, the Defense Department’s top personnel official said.

James N. Stewart, who is performing the duties of the undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, testified on recruiting and retention during a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee’s military personnel subcommittee yesterday.


“The services are on track to achieve their recruiting missions this year, but they continue to face an ever-changing recruiting environment with a robust economy, low unemployment and significant competition from the civilian sector,” he said.

“Today, just 29% of America’s youth are eligible to serve without a waiver for things like drug use or minor criminal infractions,” Stewart said. “And, just 2% are eligible and have a propensity to serve.”

DOD is employing innovative tools to attract those eligible recruits.

To reach a more technologically-savvy generation, in addition to running ads on traditional media, he said the department is using social media to target young people and those who influence them the most — parents, teachers, coaches and others who play a key role in a person’s decision to join the military.

The department is also using artificial intelligence to analyze information to craft a better plan to reach audiences when they will be most receptive to DOD messaging, Stewart said.

The department and each of the services have varied outreach and marketing approaches to reach the widest audience, he said, “particularly talented women and minorities, because we rely on diverse backgrounds and perspectives to address the complex challenges facing our nation today.”

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“The military services are each exhibiting strong retention in the aggregate and they expect to meet or exceed retention goals this year,” Stewart said.

“Achieving and maintaining these retention rates is only possible if you take care of the member and their family. We like to say we recruit the member, but retain the family,” he added. “So we’re making every effort to support our military families in ways that recognize and relieve the challenges that come with the military way of life.”

Stewart also outlined a number of ways DOD is helping families, including in areas such as child care, moving arrangements, spouse employment help and scholarship programs.


Source: Department of Defense

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