April 14, 2009
The demands of fighting two wars with an all-volunteer military have forced the Army to send battle-weary soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan directly to recruiting stations to fulfill the service's need to sign 80,000 new troops a year.
In some cases, the pressures of the assignment, coupled with combat-related stress and the isolation that comes with operating far-flung recruitment posts, becomes overwhelming. Since 2001, 17 Army recruiters have committed suicide, four from a single unit -- the Houston Recruiting Battalion.
While the Houston battalion makes adjustments in the wake of Turner's report, the Army is facing another recruiting challenge. It plans to add 74,000 soldiers to its ranks by 2010. To do so, it has bolstered the number of active-duty recruiters from 6,506 to 7,574. "Never have we had such a high percentage of military individuals having combat experience," said David Rudd, a former Army psychologist who teaches at Texas Tech University. "The probability that these people are going to end up in these jobs is greater than ever."