TAMPA, Fla. — Micah Waterbury has known for years he wanted to serve in the military and he just took the oath to join the Army to make that dream a reality, with a big bonus.
“I did talk to a lot of the other branches. But the Army was more welcoming,” said the 19-year-old from Hudson.
But for Micah, who spent time in foster care growing up, a new incentive program made his decision even easier. For the first time in history, the Army is offering a $50,000 bonus for those who commit to six years of service.
“I think that’s great because then you are able to financially set yourself up for retirement or anything else you might need later down in life,” said Waterbury.
The pandemic made recruiting more difficult the last year couple of years because school and public events couldn’t happen.
Lt. Col. Micheal Norton heads up recruiting all over Florida and said along with the enticement of free college and medical coverage, the bonus will help his mission.
“It’s absolutely to get more folks in our force. We need to grow from the bottom up. We have a lot of senior folks in the Army right now. But we are looking to bring in our replacements ultimately,” said Norton.
Other incentives include two-year enlistment options and duty station choice.
But, it's important to note, not everyone who signs up gets the full $50,000 bonus. It goes to recruits on certain career paths as the Army is trying to compete for the same talent as businesses in the private sector.
In Micah’s case, he’s going to be a fire control specialist. That means calculating where artillery will hit.
“It is an amazing feeling when you know that hit and you are sitting behind a computer doing all the work to make that happen,” said Norton.
Micah said he would have joined the Army even without the big bonus. He also said he's looking forward to starting college courses, once basic training is completed.