The Army’s latest recruitment video series has targeted American society in a daring bid to entice the country’s youth to become soldiers.
Rather than highlighting the unique opportunities that military service can provide, the branch has gone full petty, comparing what some consider baseline human rights benefits to the much weaker ones provided by the average American workplace.
The clips, featured on YouTube, essentially say, “the Army isn’t great, but it’s a hell of a lot better than working elsewhere.”
Focused on benefits like homebuying, paid parental leave, vacation days and pension plans, the underlying message of these videos seem less about recruiting and serve more as a commentary about the sad state of affairs for the average civilian employee. There are currently five of the ads, all part of a series called “Know Your Army.”
In the short film about homebuying benefits, a soldier on a camping trip says, " So, uh, we’re getting that house we told you guys about.”
Her friends around the campfire are aghast, as a brave one asks, “you’re buying a house?” incredulously.
She replies with undue sass, “Yeah, soldiers get VA loan guarantees.”
“Well, my office gives free bagels,” the forlorn civilian friend retorts.
The smug soldier and her husband simply stare at the friend, acknowledging her pathetic situation, and the scene fades to black. “Go Army.”
Another, on pensions, is equally cringeworthy. It features a dorky older civilian in the middle of a river, wearing waders and a bucket hat, trying to fish, but his phone rings and he has to answer: It’s a client.
He looks on enviously at the handsome young soldier, who casts a line without a care in the world.
“What do you do?” he asks.
“Retired,” the young man says, smirking.
“Tech?” he questions. How else could a man so young and virile possibly have the money to spend his days noodling for catfish in the River Styx?
“Nah, Army,” he says, flashing his million dollar Tricare smile.
In an even bolder move, GoArmy did not turn off comments, prompting some viewers to chime in about the impact of these videos.
“Good luck convincing your commander to approve your 30-day vacation,” wrote user SHIIEEET in response to the video about paid leave.
Another user named Mr. Muldoon wrote, “Wow. It’s hard to believe that the [Army] can’t make It’s numbers with recruiting gems like these.”
In the last fiscal year, U.S. Army Recruiting Command secured 57,606 recruits, 106 more than its goal, but it did not hit its Reserve target of 15,875. Only 11,690 applicants made it to boot camp.
Perhaps Army Reserve recruiters should try free bagels?
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digital Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.