Army Recruiter

During the waning years of the Vietnam era, I photographed this U.S. Army recruiter outside his office at 1056 West Wilson Avenue. The Army was able to get all the people it needed through the draft lottery that existed at the time. Nevertheless, many people would still volunteer. Some volunteered to get “three hots and a cot.” Others volunteered out of a sense of patriotism or simply to escape the neighborhood. If you were strong and didn’t have any felonies, it was an easy job to get. This sergeant pointed out that many people joined because it gave them a chance to travel, an education and a sense of direction. When they finished their tour of duty, they were more employable.  While I was talking to the recruiter, an aging wino approached us and tried to join up. The $2500 signing bonus for high school graduates may have had something to do with it. To the sergeants credit, he humored the man but told him he wouldn’t qualify.

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