Thomas Weber is no stranger to hard work. The 20-year-old Wisconsin native said he has done a little bit of everything in his short life, including bussing tables and delivering auto parts.
“I think I even worked at Little Caesar’s once,” said a smiling Weber. “Finding a job that pays well and has good benefits is hard to do.”
Weber’s freshly shaved head is a sign that his job-searching and job-jumping days are over. For that, he can thank Uncle Sam.
“I am currently in the middle of basic training right now,” he said. “I decided to go infantry.”
Weber joined the Army two months ago. He said he made the move to go active after he found out his then-girlfriend and now-wife was pregnant.
“It was something that I was always iffy about,” he said. “I had thought about it, but with the war and all I was not sure it was something that I wanted to do.”
Weber is from a family of service members, and both of his wife’s parents retired from the military.
Despite the family history, Weber said his decision to make the Army a career was a personal choice.
“Being young parents, we needed (the Army) to get on our feet,” he said. “The health care is amazing, and you’ll always know you will have a paycheck.”
The nation’s weakened economy has been credited for having an impact on the Army’s ability to recruit and retain soldiers such as Weber.
A recent Washington Post article said that in spite of recruitment obstacles faced early in the Bush administration, the Army, with the help of its $1.35 billion, five-year “Army Strong” advertising campaign, has been able to meet its recruiting goals for the past three years.
Sfc. Donyale Garvey, an Army recruiter in Hinesville, gives a different explanation for her office’s consistent recruitment figures.
“Our numbers really have not changed because our programs have not changed,” she said. “It’s been an even flow for us, and people join for various reasons.”
Garvey, who has been a recruiter for five years and has been stationed at the Hinesville recruitment office for six months, said the number of Army recruits coming out of Hinesville remains steady because people are looking for more than just job security.
“A lot of people have some knowledge of the military,” she said. “There may be jobs in the city but people may not be qualified for them.”
“It also really depends on us. The more people you have in the office, the more people you get in.”
On average, Garvey said, 15 people are recruited to join the Army each month at her office.
“If the change in the economy was so tough, I think the reserves would be harder for us to recruit, and we’re still seeing the numbers stay the same,” she said.
Still, Weber and his wife said the economy was a major factor in his decision to join.
“There’s no real options out there,” said 20-year-old Courtney Weber, who is six months pregnant. “It really (stinks).”