Midwestern military recruiters are seeing a significant pickup in enlistees, not just since the war started but over the past few years. Toni Harn is spokeswoman for the U-S Army and Army Reserve Recruitment Battalion covering Iowa and Nebraska. Harn says there’s been a boost in recruiting during the last 60 days and a 20-percent increase over the past three years. She attributes the rise, not to the war on terrorism, but to the economy. She says people are looking for benefits for their future. Harn says many people are signing up for the service to pay off college loans or because they’re still in college and forsee financial troubles on the horizon. Some say the war against Iraq is sparking interest in the military career. One recruiter in the Norfolk, Nebraska, area says he has been surprised and pleased by the increase. He says people are coming in, some of whom are older or are otherwise not qualified for recruitment, but who still want to help. Harn says most recruits in the past were 17-to-19-year-olds but that’s no longer the case. She says it’s more college-age or people who’ve been out of high school for several years and aren’t finding the types of jobs they need to support themselves and their families. Harn was asked if the heavy media coverage of the war in Iraq is inspiring more recruits or turning people off of a switch to military life. She says they aren’t walking in and saying they want to join up to get into the war, nor are they getting people who don’t want to join up for fear of getting into the war. Harn is based in Des Moines and oversees 32 recruitment offices in Iowa and Nebraska and one in the Illinois Quad Cities (Moline).
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