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Army Offers Returning Troops Their Old Ranks

November 30, 2005|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — For former soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who might be toying with the idea of getting back into uniform, the Army has a new offer: Join up and regain your old rank without repeating basic training.

It's the latest twist in the Army's pitch for recruits as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan make it increasingly difficult to enlist young people and meet the Army's need for 80,000 new soldiers a year. "It's common sense," said Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, an Army spokesman.

The Army previously had welcomed back former service members under more stringent conditions, namely that they would lose their prior rank and have to take basic training again.

This month, the Army sent correspondence to 78,000 people who left the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps less than five years ago, including 7,000 officers, as reported Monday by the Army Times newspaper.

They can reenter at their former rank if they have not been out of the service for more than four years, and they are eligible for a signing bonus of up to $19,000, depending on their skill specialty, Hilferty said.

"There is no higher calling than service in our armed forces, and this is your opportunity to answer the call to duty again," the recruiting brochure reads. "Make part of your past, part of your future," it adds.

The Army hopes that 1,000 to 2,000 of the 78,000 accept the offer, Hilferty said. That's a relatively small number, considering that the Army aims to enlist 80,000 people this year, after falling nearly 7,000 short last year.

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