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ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army is offering soldiers with combat experience two weeks temporary duty in the recruiting station closest to their own hometown to help recruit new members.

And to sweeten the pot, once their recruiting obligations are completed, soldiers can take personal leave, “as long as their commander approves” the extra time off, said Julia Bobick, a spokeswoman for the Army’s recruiting command at Fort Knox, Ky.

But soldiers can’t take advantage of the deal while they are still deployed, because of the costs of bringing people back to the United States from places such as Iraq, Bobick said in a Tuesday telephone interview.

Neither can soldiers who are stationed overseas use the new program as a way to get a free trip home, Bobick said.

But if a soldier is enlisted, stationed in the United States, is 25 years old or younger, and has served overseas in support of Operations Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom, he or she can apply for the Special Recruiter Assistance Program, or SRAP, arrangement, Bobick said.

In fiscal 2004, which ended in September, the Army National Guard missed its recruiting target of 56,000 new soldiers by nearly 7,000 enlistees, or more than 12 percent.

The active Army recruited 77,587 soldiers, or 100.8 percent of its goal, according to the Army’s Recruiting Command.

For the Army Reserve, the command recruited 21,278 soldiers, or 100.4 percent of its goal.

The goal for fiscal 2005 is to bring in 80,000 new soldiers for the Active Army and 22,175 soldiers for the Army Reserve.

As of Nov. 29, the last date for which numbers were available, recruiters had signed up 13,767 new soldiers for active duty and 2,292 new soldiers for the Reserve.

During the 14-day recruiting duty, soldiers “have to put in a full 40-hour week” working with personnel in the recruiting station, Bobick said.

After an orientation by the battalion public affairs officer, soldiers in the program may be called on to speak at college and community events, or participate in interviews with local media, Bobick said.

Soldiers can claim reimbursement for travel expenses and will receive per diem for their temporary duty assignment time.

Not everyone who applies may get accepted into the program, Bobick said.

Applicants must be screened, which takes about a week, and the first lieutenant colonel up their chain of command must sign their applications, Bobick said.

To apply for SRAP, go to the U.S. Army Recruiting Command’s Web site at www.usarec.army.mil, or call (502) 626-0448/1582.

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