While the Navy struggles with one of the most difficult recruiting periods in decades, Rear Adm. Douglas “V8” Verissimo has set his sights on reaching the next generation of sailors.
Verissimo took the helm of Naval Air Force Atlantic in mid-August. The Norfolk, Virginia-based headquarters is responsible for the material readiness, administration, training and inspection of units and squadrons.
Recruitment, he said, is among his top priorities. According to Navy Recruiting Command, the service set a goal of approximately 50,000 new recruits for Fiscal Year 2023, which concludes Sept. 30. Last year, the Navy's goal of 45,000 new recruits fell short by around 3,000, or 6%. Year-to-date recruitment data is not available.
“Uniformed services in general whether it be in a civilian sector — police, fire — and the other services to include the Navy, we're just having challenges getting young people to desire to serve their nation or to realize what kind of benefit comes from serving the nation,” Verissimo said.
Factors that contribute to this challenging environment, the Navy Recruiting Command said, are a strong economy, decreasing service by influencers, such parents, teachers, and coaches, and low propensity to serve due to misperceptions and fear around military service. The Navy is currently targeting Generation Z, those born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s, and Generation Alpha, those born in 2010 onward.