Since the early 1900s, the army has been asking every young American to join and defend it’s country, plying citizens with offers of both money and the promise to “make you a man.”
Prior to the outbreak of World War I, military recruitment in the US was conducted primarily by individual states.Upon entering the war, however, the federal government took on an increased role.
The increased emphasis on a national effort was reflected in World War I recruitment methods. Peter A. Padilla and Mary Riege Laner define six basic appeals to these recruitment campaigns:patriotism, job/career/education, adventure/challenge, social status, travel, and miscellaneous. Between 1915 and 1918, 42% of all army recruitment posters were themed primarily by patriotism. And though other themes – such as adventure and greater social status – would play an increased role during World War II recruitment, appeals to serve one’s country remained the dominant selling point.
The effort they had put in these propaganda posters can be clearly noticed by the posters below.
Check out these 20 Vintage army recruiting posters.
Adventure and Action
All right, let’s go
Cavalry life in the US ARMY
Come and join us brothers
Dig in to a generous benefits package
Don’t gamble with your future
Guard our shore at home and abroad
I want you for U.S army
In the face of obstacles – courage
In the aftermath of World War II military recruitment shifted significantly. With no war calling men and women to duty, the United States refocused its recruitment efforts to present the military as a career option, and as a means of achieving a higher education. A majority – 55% – of all recruitment posters would serve this end. And though peacetime would not last, factors such as the move to an all-volunteer military would ultimately keep career-oriented recruitment efforts in place.The Defense Department turned to television syndication as a recruiting aid from 1957-1960 with a filmed show,Country Style, USA.
Join army for period of war
Keep ’em flying
Now you can choose
On February 20, 1970, the President’s Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Force unanimously agreed that the United States would be best served by an all-volunteer military. In supporting this recommendation, the committee noted that recruitment efforts would have to be intensified, as new enlistees would need to be convinced rather than conscripted. Much like the post-World War II era, these new campaigns put a stronger emphasis on job opportunity. As such, the committee recommended “improved basic compensation and conditions of service, proficiency pay, and accelerated promotions for the highly skilled to make military career opportunities more attractive.” These new directives were to be combined with “an intensive recruiting effort.” Finalized in mid-1973, the recruitment of a “professional” military was met with success. In 1975 and 1976, military enlistments exceeded expectations, with over 365,000 men and women entering the military. Though this may, in part, have been the result of a lack of civilian jobs during the recession, it nevertheless stands to underline the ways in which recruiting efforts responded to the circumstances of the time.
Indeed, recommendations made by the President’s Commission continue to work in present-day recruitment efforts. Understanding the need for greater individual incentive, the US military has re-packaged the benefits of the GI Bill. Though originally intended as compensation for service, the bill is now seen as a recruiting tool. Today, the GI Bill is “no longer a reward for service rendered, but an inducement to serve and has become a significant part of recruiter’s pitches.
Men wanted for the army
They’ve got go the GUTS
Three fine futures for you
Vacancies exist! enlist now
Where SKILL and courage count