JACKSONVILLE, ONSLOW COUNTY - Department of Defense officials met with the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee Thursday to discuss potential military recruitment problems.
They say right now, recruitment quality is at an all-time high, and recruiters nationwide have surpassed their goals.
But only 25 percent of youth 18 to 24 are qualified to enlist in the military branches, for health, fitness or aptitude reasons, according to officials. That makes the pool pretty small.
They also say the economy may play a role. Officials add that with the slowly improving economy, with more jobs and income available, fewer people will want to join in the future.
Two New River Air Station Marines have mixed reviews about how recruitment will be affected.
Corporal Mary Carmona went to college and got her degree in journalism/mass communication. Her job search upon graduation was difficult.
"I did find it hard to get a job right off the bat without any real experience," Carmona said.
Carmona says she wanted to join the Marine Corps since she was young. But having difficulty finding a job in print journalism, she enlisted for job security and to serve.
"That was the one place that guaranteed me the experience in my field," Carmona said. "It guaranteed me an opportunity to fulfill the goal that I had for serving, and for a new challenge, a challenge that I didn't think there was any stronger challenge out there."
Lance Corporal Andy Orozco also decided to enlist in the military.
"I wanted to go to college," Orozco said. "I needed financial aid, I needed a job to help me get to college. The Marine Corps said well, we've got the G. I. bill, which is, serve your country, here's your schooling."
Former Army recruiter Reginald Roy says these factors won't stop the interest.
"The economy itself -- individuals will still like to join the military," Roy said. "You can do it for training, money for college, job stability, just want to travel to see the world. It's what you find out you're interested in, and it's more to help build you, make it as a stepping stone."
Orozco says there are no regrets with his decision. It made him a better person, he loves his job -- and may just make a career out of it.
"I can't see myself wearing anything else but the green cammies I'm wearing now."
For more information, visit www.defense.gov.
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