Military Proves Old Adage: Mo' Money, Mo' Soldiers

War and profit have long been pals. Governments and corporations make scads of dough on invasions, attacks, contracts and such. So why shouldn't some of that profit help recruit a record amount of new, financially strapped soldiers, right?

The U.S. military has long struggled to meet its recruiting goals, but not this year! All branches — Army, Navy, et al — have pulled in more than enough new soldiers. And they have the recession to thank.

Yes, with work scant across the nation, desperate men and women are increasingly turning to the armed services to help makes ends meet. And, despite the economic woes settling in elsewhere, the armed services are making it worth their while — more so than usual:

[Deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy Bill Carr] credited hefty enlistment bonuses for the military's success, saying 40 percent of recruits received an average bonus of $14,000, compared with $12,000 on average in 2008. The size of the bonus varied by service, with the Army, which has the toughest mission, offering more.

Not only are these funds bringing in more troops — 103% more than annual goals — the recruits are generally more educated and, therefore, more valuable to the army, not like the convicts and high school drop outs on which the military has come to rely. So, it sounds like everyone wins: the armed services and the soldiers. So why do we feel so dirty about the whole thing?

We know the bonuses help the soldiers and their families, but consider the other dough being pumped into the recruitment process:

Carr said the Defense Department spent about $10,000 on advertising, marketing, recruiters and other budget items per recruit, with the Army spending more than double that, at $22,000.

"The unemployment . . . left us with more dollars per recruit than proved to be minimally necessary," he said.

All this only puts into more stark relief how much money our government's spending to identify, target and sell wars to struggling Americans. Realizing that people need help, the government's simply sweetening the proverbial honey pot.

Considering that Iraq and Afghanistan have no definite end — the latter of which will likely get worse — the fact that about 20% of military families file for bankruptcy as the result of medical bills and 29% of homeless people are veterans, these economic incentives smell like short-term bribes offered to those in need. But, that's the price — and cost — of war.