Whole new recruiting ballgame
Published: October 30, 2012
The author of the Oct. 30 letter “Step up to the plate and serve” has great intentions with his proposal that baseball players should consider taking their patriotism a step further and, instead of simply saying they support the troops between games, go enlist themselves. Serving in the military can be a big sacrifice and is something that should be commended, especially when you look at Pat Tillman giving up an NFL contract to join the Army.
However, now is not the time to try to shame people into enlisting to show their patriotism. The military is going through a major drawdown, where tens of thousands of troops are looking at being involuntarily separated and people who haven’t joined yet are being turned away due to tougher enlistment standards. When I was a recruiter a few months ago, I probably turned away 20 people for every one I enlisted.
I would be all over this challenge in 2005 when the military was struggling to meet numbers and was letting in people with felony convictions, no diploma or GED, and ASVAB scores in the 20s. Today, with more people trying to join than we can accept, any celebrity who enlists is just taking away a slot that another person who needs the military and doesn’t have millions in the bank could use.
Also, the maximum age to join the Army used to be 42, but it was lowered to 35 in April 2011 as one of the drawdown measures. The Marines have a maximum age of 28, meaning anybody who stops playing professional baseball at 30 is already disqualified. The Navy currently tops out at 34.
Until we actually need former major leaguers in the armed forces, they should stick with entertaining us and verbally expressing their support.