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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Army to Cut Trump-Era Benefit for Soldiers

'This is not living up to the promise [soldiers] thought they had...'

(Ken Silva, Headline USA) The U.S. Army is reportedly eyeing a benefits cut that would surely worsen the already historically low recruitment numbers.

According to Military.com, the Army could cut its Army Credentialing Assistance program, or Army CA, as a cost-cutting measure.

The Army CA was introduced force-wide during the Trump administration in 2020 as a complementary benefit to traditional scholarship programs.

“Instead of being intended to be used for college degrees, the program gave soldiers $4,000 per year, for civilian credentials — such as qualifications in coding languages, cybersecurity, personal training, commercial driver’s licenses and other skills that can help them in the civilian world or supplement their military career,” Military.com explained.

However, “Now, the service is looking to reduce that benefit to $1,000 per year and never to exceed $4,000 across a career—and those credentials must serve the soldier’s job, meaning an infantryman may not be able to get certifications in cybersecurity fields—reverting back to an earlier style of the benefit,” the publication said.

“That limited benefit would struggle to cover the costs of most quality civilian courses and licensing.”

Citing anonymous sources and internal emails, Military.com reported that the potential cut is still in the planning stage. The Army reportedly did not comment on the matter.

Jeff Frisby, executive director at the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, told Military.com that the Army is breaking its promise to soldiers.

“This is not living up to the promise [soldiers] thought they had,” Frisby said. “With recruiting, for people who wanted those robust education benefits, now they realize this might not be something they want to do.”

To Frisby’s point, the Army reportedly fell more than 15,000 recruits short of its target of 60,000 in 2022, and another 10,000 recruits last year.

The decrease in white recruits has led the overall decline. Military.com in January that the number of white Army recruits fell from 44,042 in 2018 to 25,070. In 2018, 56.4% of new recruits were reportedly categorized as white. In 2023, that number reportedly declined to 44%.

Many government officials have expressed apathy at the declining recruitment rates. In December, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., proposed that the shortfall in white recruits could be made up for by allowing illegal immigrants to serve.

“Do you know what the recruiting numbers are at the Army, Navy and Air Force? They can’t find enough people,” Durbin said at the time. “And there are undocumented people who want to serve this country. Should we give them the chance? I think we should.”

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.

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