The US Army is telling soldiers kicked out over COVID-19 vaccinations that they can come back.
The Army missed its recruiting goal by about 25% in 2022.
An Army official said Gen Z's distrust in institutions may be causing a recruiting decline.
The US Army is having such a difficult time recruiting that it's sending soldiers who were kicked out for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 instructions on how to rejoin.
The Army sent the letters to about 1,900 active-duty soldiers who were separated for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the military blog Task and Purpose. Bryce Dubee, an Army spokesperson, told the blog that the letters were sent "specifically as part of the COVID mandate recession process."
A January 2023 Department of Defense memo rescinded the military rules that required service members to get vaccinated against COVID-19, which the department put in place in August and November 2021. The memo said that no one serving in the armed forces will be separated for refusing to take the vaccine if they seek a religious, administrative, or medical accommodation.
Still, the memo said that the department will continue to "promote and encourage" vaccination for all service members.
The letter, which has been circulated on social media, says former soldiers who were separated for refusing to take the vaccine can request a correction of their military record and instructs those who wish to rejoin to contact a recruiter.
The new outreach to these soldiers comes amid a recruiting crisis for the US military. In 2022, the Army fell short of its recruiting goal by about 15,000 soldiers, or 25%, Army Times reported.
Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth told the outlet that the percentage of young Americans who are physically fit and mentally prepared enough to join the military has been shrinking over time and is now at about 23% of people between the ages of 18 and 24.
Wormuth also said that younger people are not as interested in joining the military due to institutional skepticism.
"When you look at Generation Z, you see a lot of the declining trust in institutions," Wormuth told NPR.
The US Army did not immediately return a request for comment from Business Insider Saturday.
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