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ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army wants you … again.

Under a new program, former servicemembers from all branches of the military can join the Army at their old rank and without going to basic training again, said Army spokesman Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty.

The Army has sent mailings to about 78,000 former servicemembers in a bid to get about 1,600 to join up, Hilferty said.

The program removes past obstacles that may have prevented servicemembers from rejoining the military.

“It’s just common sense,” Hilferty said. “These are people with the propensity to serve, who have served and who are trained.

“If they want to serve, we should give them the opportunity to serve.”

Servicemembers who left with the rank of E-5 and below can now keep their rank for up to four years after leaving the military, up from two years under previous policies, Hilferty wrote via e-mail.

Also, soldiers who have left the Army within the past three years can rejoin without having to go through boot camp again, he wrote.

Former sailors and airmen would still have to undergo the “Blue to Green” training course unless they have attended Army or Marine boot camp in the past.

Hilferty said the mailings to former servicemembers went out on Nov. 14, so it is too early to tell what kind of a response they are receiving.

The mailings list several enticements to lure former servicemembers back into the Army’s ranks.

Former active-duty soldiers are eligible for $19,000 in bonuses to rejoin the Army: $14,000 for priority training and $5,000 for enlisting under the program, according to the mailings.

Former members of other branches of the service can re-establish their health care benefits, and those who qualify as officers in the Army Reserve could earn a bonus of up to $6,000, the mailings say.

The program is an outgrowth of the Army’s “Blue to Green” program, in which 450 sailors, airmen and Marines have become soldiers since September 2004.

The new effort comes as the Army missed its 2005 recruiting goal by more than 6,600 soldiers and the Army Reserve attained only about 90 percent of its recruiting target.

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