Marine recruitment staying steady - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Marine recruitment staying steady

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- As much of the economy struggles with rising layoffs, government jobs are on the rise - especially in the military.

Recruiters may be having an easier time in this bad economy.

All branches of the military exceeded recruitment goals last year -- the first time that's happened since 2004.

Pentagon officials say in this down economy -- the military can promise a secure job with good benefits.

But recruiters say it's always a challenge -especially with combat zone deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and South Asia.

Thursday night, marine recruiters held a family night in Waterloo for about 40 young men and women and their parents to give them a better understanding of what boot camp and life in the Marine Corps will be like.

Many of the poolees - as their called - say they want to be a part of something important.

Waterloo's Center for the Arts temporarily turned into boot camp for prospective Marines - called poolees.

Two Marine Corps drill instructors from Parris Island and San Diego gave poolees an earful.

It will be part of the process of turning the 18 to 28 year olds into Marines.

"A lot of kids coming to us are looking forward to starting their lives over. They're looking forward to making a difference," says recruiter Staff Sgt. Kevin Saldivar.

Saldivar says recruitment efforts haven't changed due to troop reductions overseas or job losses in this country.

For Ryan Wilkerson, being a Marine will be family tradition.

His dad retired from the Corps.

"I'm excited, anxious, ready to go but I'm a little nervous about meeting my d.i.s and stuff," said Wilkerson.

The d.i.'s did their best to demonstrate a little bit of boot camp.

Afterwards, they answered questions from parents to make sure they understand the process and what to expect.

Almost all the young men and women will attend boot camp this summer.

Men head to San Diego, women to Parris Island for 13 weeks before they can be called a Marine.

Last year, 790 men and women in the Iowa-Nebraska region went to Marine boot camp.

This year, so far, 342 have signed up.

Online Reporter:  Bob Waters

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