Education Benefits are Top Recruiting Incentive

Education Benefits are Top Recruiting Incentive

Soldiers learning
Photo by: U.S. Army/Maj. Kasandra B. Tharp

Education benefits are vital to recruiting talented people into the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve, two senior officers told the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on defense.

Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, and Lt. Gen. Jody Daniels, chief of the Army Reserve and commander of Army Reserve Command, testified June 1 that tuition assistance and access to health care benefits are “vital for recruitment.”

“When I visit the 54 [states, territories and the District of Columbia], I always talk to recruiters and ask them what are those things, why people still come in, and education is still one of those consistent things,” Hokanson said.

With the exception of Guam, he said, the states provide Guard troops with tuition assistance, in addition to the aid provided by DoD. That helps provide “stability throughout the process,” Hokanson said.

Addressing today’s challenging recruiting environment, which will likely see the Regular Army fall short of its recruiting goals again this fiscal year, Hokanson said the Army National Guard has met or exceeded its goals in recent months.

“Our recruiters, particularly on the Army side, have really been able to adjust to the current environment, and we’ve seen a steady increase in our recruiting abilities,” he said. “We’ve been over 100% the last three months, and right now the Army National Guard is on path to meet our end strength by the end of the fiscal year.”

Daniels said that educational assistance is not only “vital for recruiting,” but it helps Reserve soldiers continue to grow in their civilian careers and bring enhanced knowledge and skills to their units.

“In an extremely challenging recruiting environment, our highest priority is sustaining the resources required to recruit and retain the best today and into the future,” Daniels said. Daniels and Hokanson are both in the final year of their tenures.

In addition to educational benefits, Hokanson noted that premium free health care also is an important recruiting incentive, particularly as the private sector becomes more competitive.

“Many companies are now offering benefits that they didn’t before, medical, educational benefits, and so the competition out there for the same individuals is getting much stronger,” he said, adding that the National Guard is “working internally” to reduce the time it takes to get waivers and addressing other policies that may keep some from serving.

“Education, any benefits we can provide to them, is a benefit when it comes to recruiting,” Hokanson said.