Rising unemployment and safer conditions in Iraq have boosted interest in joining the Army, allowing recruiters to raise acceptance standards. The Washington Post reports that felons and recent drug users need not apply, and the pool of applicants also is better educated. For the first time since 2004, the Army is on track this year to meet its goal of making sure 90% of recruits have high school diplomas.
The changes are a relief to a military that had been issuing more felony waivers—511 in 2007—as it struggled to fill recruiting quotas. "We are not even going to consider" anyone convicted of crimes such as assault, arson, and robbery or who tests positive for drugs or alcohol, says an Army Recruiting Command official. Some top brass had feared the current wars could end the Army’s all-volunteer status.