Army GED Program Ends, Victim Of The Unemployment Crisis

08/30/2010 02:09 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Back in 2008, when the military was struggling to maintain recruiting levels, the Army launched a program at Fort Jackson in South Carolina geared toward giving aspiring soldiers the chance to earn their GED while training for an Army career. The program appears to have been a success.

According to this AP report, "About 11.6 percent left before a two-year term of service was up, compared with 16 percent who earned GED certificates on their own and then enlisted." Program beneficiaries tell the same tale:

For 20-year-old Jayson Reimers of Seattle, who had a young son to support, the GED program was a ticket out of a dead-end part-time mall job. The teachers helped him brush up on subjects he missed when he dropped out of school as a senior, and he passed the GED test on his second try.

"I wanted to work on cars. I wanted a skill," said Reimers, who will head to mechanics' school here.

Sadly, this program is about to be shuttered. Colonel Kevin Shwedo, Fort Jackson's "deputy commander," says, "We're a victim of our own recruiting success."

That's one way of looking at it. Here's another way:

The GED pilot program known as the Army's prep school started here in summer 2008, when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan left the service scrambling to find soldiers. But since then, with the economy in a downward spiral and jobs hard to come by, more people with diplomas have been enlisting.

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