Posted Oct. 9, 2007 – Fewer Black folks are using the military as a stepping stone to a better life in the United States, Defense Department statistics suggest.
Ever since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 2001, African Americans just aren’t signing up. The number of young Blacks enlisting in the military has dropped by nearly 60 percent over the past seven years, statistics show. The Army, usually the service of choice for Blacks, is where there is the most notable decline. Pentagon statistics show that more than 42,000 Black men and women applied to enlist in 2000; in 2005, just over 17,000 signed up.
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When young Blacks were asked about why they’ve decided against the military as a career choice and they point to President Bush and the Iraq war. Over the same five-year period, data show, the number of White applicants fell about 10 percent, Hispanic applicants by almost 7 percent.
"The main thing everyone has to realize is that an all-volunteer force is just that," S. Douglas Smith, public affairs officer for the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, told The Boston Globe. "We try to make sure we communicate to every part of society and let them know what we have to offer. We try to be as open as we can about the risk of service and the benefits of service. After that, it's a matter of people choosing if they want to come in and serve."
The question now is whether Blacks will continue to opt for a civilian lifestyle long after Bush is gone and the war is over.
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) has said that it’s time for a military draft. That way, he says, everybody, not just poor and minority citizens with limited career options, will have an equal shot at serving their country, going to war and, unfortunately, getting killed in battle.
Is the military still a good option for young Blacks? Click "Discuss Now," to the right, to post your comment.