Biden eliminates top incentive in military recruiting process

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Our military is struggling to recruit, and President Joe Biden just made it worse.

As threats around the world increase, the pool of people willing and able to serve is rapidly deteriorating. The military must be creative and offer benefits not found in other careers to attract needed talent. This can include both financial benefits, such as signing bonuses, and others such as skills development and accreditation.

This year, every branch of the US military is struggling to meet its recruiting goals. The army will end this fiscal year short of 20,000 soldiers. By the end of July, the Army had only reached 66% of its recruiting goal for the year. The Navy, only 89%. The Air Force also has several thousand recruits behind it, but could achieve its end goal through creative accounting.

It takes a special person to serve, in more ways than one. You must not only be willing but also able. Recent surveys suggest that only 23% of the US population is eligible for the service, and only 9% of the population has an initial interest in the service. Historically, less than 1% of the population ends up serving.

Traditionally, the strongest and best-known incentives for military service have been educational benefits, particularly the GI Bill and student loan forgiveness programs. If you walk into a recruiter’s office, one of the first things he will sell you is the military’s ability to pay for his education. Already have a degree? No problem, the military will pay off those student loans and provide you with long-term financial success.

However, on August 24, the Biden administration announced that it would write off up to $20,000 in student loan debt for individuals, inadvertently cutting off the legs of the military under them.

Under the plan, borrowers who earn less than $125,000 per year or less than $250,000 for couples are eligible for the program. If you compare that to the annual salaries of members of the military, every military member up to a colonel (O-6) with 16 years of service would be eligible for the program based on their base rate of pay.

This presents two hypothetical options to the American public: Commit to a 16+ year career in the military to earn these educational benefits. Or do nothing, pursue a civilian career and receive the same benefit. Even the most patriotic Americans can see that’s an easy choice.

Why would anyone risk signing a blank check to their country, payable with their life, to earn the same perks the Biden administration hands out for free?

No doubt taking an advantage that was reserved for military and specific civil service careers and extending it to all will have a lasting negative effect. If the military cannot capitalize on its main recruiting incentive, there is no doubt that our recruiting problems will continue.

America should care. Jeopardizing the security of our homeland to score political points is unacceptable and must not be tolerated.

Fortunately, I am not alone in my convictions. As an Air Force veteran and member of the House Armed Services Committee, I led nineteen of my colleagues to send a letter to the President and Secretary of Defense expressing our concerns. We asked for responses on whether the military was consulted during the development of the loan cancellation plan and what the administration was doing to mitigate the effects on the military and improve existing programs within the services. .

Instead of focusing on alms, the administration should encourage service in our younger generations. I am ready to work tirelessly to solve this problem. We have no other choice because the consequences of failure could prove to be a matter of life or death.

• Pat Fallon has served as the U.S. Representative for Texas’ 4th Congressional District since 2021. He served Texas’ 30th Senate District from 2019 to 2021.

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