Oil & Gas industry weighing heavily on local Army recruitment

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ODESSA -- When you think of West Texas, there are a couple of key factors that come to mind: football, the Bible belt, and American pride.

So people might be surprised to hear that they have a difficulty recruiting West Texans to join the military.

“People love to shake our hands, but don’t want to join the Army,” explained Sergeant Brian Flanagan.

Last year Odessa was designated to recruit 55 people, but only were able to reach 35: just over sixty percent of their goal.

Sergeant Flanagan attributes a lot of the numbers to the oilfield.
When the oil field is booming, recruiting for the military goes down.

“The unemployment rate, as far as Odessa and Midland has gone down. The oil field has gone way up, and unfortunately, everybody looks at the quick buck," he explained.

Between 2014 and 2015, when the oilfield was on a downturn, the Odessa army center recruited 100% of their contracts.

"The oil field really is a wave length, we have ups and then we have downs - with the Army there is no up and down - it's a consistent job. If you join when you're 18, you can retire at 38," explained Staff Sergeant Chris Cobos.

For Mario Jr. Quesada, he’s currently in the oilfield and wants to switch careers.

“I want to do something honorable, something my son can be proud of me for,” he explained.

Sergeant Flanagan explained that even though the oil field may pay out more, the military pleads their case with benefits.

"We pay for your health insurance, and your family's health insurance," explained the Sergeant.

It’s also a family tradition, explained Trinity Wanbolt, "I had a big influence from my great grandfather."

"This is one of my dreams I want to pursuit," Quesada said.
A dream the Army wants to help with.

"They gave us a mission, and we're going to accomplish it," concluded Sergeant Flanagan.

He says the best time to recruit is after the New Year, or when college letters get out, explaining that's when people realize college isn't for them, or they'd rather take advantage of what the army has to offer.