Families welcome Fort Carson soldiers home

Soldiers march through the door during a homecoming Jan. 15 at on Fort Carson. The soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan in April 2018. Photo by Christian Murdock

The Rand Corp. has issued a report profiling the lifestyles of the Army’s newest soldiers — and there are few surprises.

The soldiers joined for a combination of altruistic and self-serving reasons. They wanted to help the country, see the world and have a steady paycheck.

In the service, they’re not fond of picking up cigarette butts, painting rocks and all the other leisure activities offered by their sergeants.

Oh, and their recruiters may have stretched reality by the tiniest of margins.

“(Recruiters) show you this awesome video with Bradleys shooting stuff and motorcycles and all this cool stuff and we don’t actually do any of that stuff,” one private told researchers at Rand.

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The Army asked for the study as they struggle to recruit new soldiers, falling 6,500 privates short of their goals last year despite offering bonuses of up to $40,000.

And the study offers a degree of hope. Despite their griping, new soldiers are actually pretty happy.

“When asked about broader life in the Army, the majority of soldier experiences were better than they expected,” Rand found.

The study also offered helpful hints to the Army brass. One big takeaway: make sure recruiters stick to the truth.

Another: These new soldiers would make pretty great recruiters.

Rand asked the Army to “consider incentivizing first-term soldiers who successfully recruit from their friends and peer networks.”

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There’s another takeaway tied to the generation known for smartphones and helicopter parents:

If you want to win recruits, you’ll need to talk with Mom and Dad first.

“Efforts that engage families in the recruitment process may pay dividends for the Army,” Rand said.

The Army is in the middle of rebranding itself to get with the times. In recent years, they’ve tried “Army of one” and “Army strong.”

It could be time to dust off “Be all that you can be,” if the Rand researchers are correct. Rand used a few more words to replay the Cold War-era slogan, though: “Many soldiers are pragmatic professionals in that they are motivated by both institutional and occupational benefits.”

“Be all that you can be” is a bit catchier than “Institutional and occupational benefits!”

That’s the new of it, here’s the old — a full century old.

The American Legion will celebrate its 100th birthday in Colorado Springs this month with an event Friday at its downtown post at the intersection of Platte and Cascade avenues.

“On March 15, 1919 veterans from the Great War or The War To End All Wars met in Paris to hold the first (gathering) of The American Legion,” the group said in an email. “At 11 a.m.on March 15, 2019 Colorado Springs American Legion Post 5 will host the first of three events to mark the centennial of this veterans’ organization.”

In addition to remarks and refreshments, the event features a special stamp cancellation from the Postal Service.

Legion events are planned around the Pikes Peak region this year to celebrate the organization.

Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240 Twitter: @xroederx

Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

Twitter: @xroederx

Senior Military Editor

Tom Roeder is the Gazette's senior military editor. In Colorado Springs since 2003, Tom covers seven military installations in Colorado, including five in the Pikes Peak region. His main job, though, is being dad to two great kids.

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