God bless 'em all
Recruits flock to join military(subscription required)
Seeking good pay, adventure
Trevor Wilhelm, Windsor Star
Published: Saturday, April 22, 2006
Despite a controversial mission in Afghanistan and the highly publicized loss of Canadian lives, Canada's Armed Forces are exceeding recruitment targets as people come in search of high pay and big adventure, according to recruiters.
Capt. Holly Brown of the Canadian Forces Recruitment Group, headquartered at CFB Borden, said that success has come in the face of advertising embargoes on government agencies during the Gomery inquiry and federal election.
"We exceeded our targets this year and that was without being able to advertise," she said. "I think Canadians are patriotic people. The young people we're seeing come in have that patriotism and want to get there and change the world."
As of April 1, the Armed Forces had 63,000 regular forces and 23,000 people in primary reserves.
In the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2006 - the first of a five-year recruitment drive - Brown said more than 5,800 people signed up for full time regular service in Canada, surpassing the target of 5,500.
With recruitment for part-time primary reserves, a total of 11,400 people joined last year, she said.
The aim this year is to recruit at least 6,400 regular forces.
In Windsor, 86 people enrolled for full-time service and 124 people joined up part time with the reserves, said local recruitment officer Capt. Valerie George.
She said that's also an increase over past years, though she didn't have the previous numbers to compare.
"Recruitment is up from last year and it's anticipated that trend will continue," said George. "We tend to see more people come in for combat arms occupations on the army side of things."
She said the potential of being put in harm's way in hot spots like Afghanistan doesn't seem to be deterring people.
So far in Afghanistan, 11 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have been killed. About 50 soldiers have been wounded.
If anything, the Afghanistan mission is actually attracting recruits, said George.
"People are just interested in the opportunity to deploy and help out," she said. Brown said the military's prominence in newspapers and on the airwaves because of the Afghan mission is raising awareness.
George said the economy is also likely contributing to strong recruitment in Windsor, with the auto and manufacturing sectors facing uncertain futures.
"People are looking for stability," she said.
It's also a good time of year for recruitment, George said, because young people are finishing school and exploring their options in the face of that uncertainty.
Brown said travel opportunities and good pay tend to be draws everywhere.