National Uncle Sam Day: Military recruiters use new methods to find and retain service members

Bixby, Okla - More than 200 years after the iconic figure, Uncle Sam, was created to represent patriotic symbolism, military recruiting has recreated a formula to fit a new generation of potential soldiers.

Beginning with the fiscal year in Sept. 2016, the U.S Army Recruiting Command has been tasked to recruit a total of 62,500 active members and 15,400 reserve members.

However, since the days of Uncle Sam the Army has constructed new strategies to account for retiring soldiers as well as times of military conflict.

Recruiting Commander of Tulsa Company, Capt. Andrew See, says the job of a military recruiter is challenging and convincing a young person to serve in today's military is a difficult task.

“To pitch this to folks, it requires a high level of commitment to get out of such a young person who may or may not know anything about the service,” See said.

Uncle Sam, which is also the nickname of the U.S. federal government, was a symbolic imitation of Samuel Wilson, a meat packer from Troy, New York, who supplied barrels of beef to the United States Army during the War of 1812. Soldiers began referring to the food as “Uncle Sam's” and the legend was born.

In 1812, figures like Uncle Sam would help recruiters sign potential soldiers, however today motivations to join the military are vastly different.

Today, many of the Army's applicants are found in high schools lunch rooms, university student unions, and even job fairs and sporting events.

Capt. See, who began recruiting in 2007, says the main focus for military recruiters is to always be visible to the public and engage community members.

“Wherever folks are, wherever folks are gathered we try and set up a booth, we try and put up a table and try and pitch our Army opportunities and what it's like to serve to the public,” See said.

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