Jacksonville, FL - When federal cuts and the budget battle first led to sequestration and then furloughs and a partial government shutdown, it was relatively easy to see the immediate impact on our military.
But when the financial uncertainty grounded the Blue Angels, recruitment districts lost one of their biggest tools for bringing in future generations to the force. That begs the question of whether we could see a lingering long term impact, especially with the budget battle far from settled.
Jacksonville’s Navy Recruitment District says, locally, their efforts are actually bringing in bigger results than ever.
“There are so many things that we do to recruit, and the propensity to serve is still really high in the Jacksonville area,” says Commander Todd Sullivan, who serves as the Operations Officer for Navy Recruiting District Jacksonville.
Sullivan tells me they brought in more than 1,800 new enlisted sailors in the past fiscal year, even with the Blue Angels grounded. That’s actually part of a three year rising trend, up from about 1,500 the year before.
“Our numbers are holding steady- and rising,” he says.
Sullivan says many of the new recruits don’t think as large as the back and forth in Washington. Because many of the effects of the financial uncertainty have focused on civilian workers or non-combat essential services, the enlistees focus instead on what their specific goals and purposes will be.
“They’re still pretty eager to jump right in to this,” he says.
But that’s not difficult to understand given the heavy Naval influence in Jacksonville and the surrounding district. Sullivan says it’s possible that grounding high profile recruiting efforts like the Blue Angels will have an impact in more rural areas or cities that don’t have the strong ties we do locally.
“It’s an important way that we let the Americans people know what their Navy does every day,” he says.
And while he wouldn’t speak to the potential long term fallout nationwide, Sullivan tells me he has no doubt the local bases will continue to see a steady stream of willing hands, and his team will continue to have the resources it needs to match those hands to the proper home.