Indebted Americans Targeted by the US Navy Recruitment Efforts

In an effort to attract new sailors, the US Navy is trying to persuade Americans drowning in debt to join the ranks by offering them to pay off their student loans with enlistment bonuses as high as $65,000 in the country where student borrowings total nearly $1.75 trillion.

The Navy announced on Saturday that recruits that meet other requirements and are willing to ship out by September 30 will be eligible for loan repayments of up to $65,000 which brings their total bonus potential to $115,000.

The offer also applies to veterans who want to return to service and who didn’t receive a bonus for their first enlistment.

Navy Recruiting Command Chief Rear Adm. Lex Walker noted that this unprecedented opportunity could be life-altering for those burdened by student loans, and the search pool is quite wide considering that nearly one in five US adults has an average of $30,000 in student debt.

The latest offer shows that the Navy’s previous incentive to fill the personnel need by raising its maximum enlistment bonus from $40,000 to $50,000 six months ago – citing the competitive labor market – wasn’t enough since all US military branches are reportedly struggling to meet their 2022 recruiting targets.

According to a Navy Recruiting Command memo released on Thursday, the latest incentives are designed to help the Navy ensure fleet readiness by meeting its recruiting requirements for specific job roles.

That means that bonus caps will vary by specialty so, for instance, special warfare boat operators and hospital corpsmen can get $36,000 while high-demand jobs in the nuclear field like specialized electronics technicians can earn the recruits the maximum bonus of $50,000.

The latest efforts also show that at times of greater need, recruiters can also be less picky since, as a 2019 Pentagon study shows that more than 17% of US military personnel are considered obese – even in active-duty ranks – with the Navy having the highest obesity rate among all branches – 22%.

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