More West Texans are Signing Up to Serve Their Country

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - More young West Texans are enlisting and it's not why you might think.

Staff Seargent Dario Hernandez is a Marine Corps recruiter in Odessa. He says its not the economy that is driving people to sign up. He believes it is the patriotic nature of West Texas.

"Everyone is very patriotic. A lot of these young men and women are willing to step up and support our country and defend it. I don't feel it's the economy that's helping us out at all.  It's more the young men and women that finally realize that they need to do something with their lives," Hernandez said.

According to the Department of Defense, 2008 is the best year they've seen since 2004,  with all branches of the military signing up more recruits than they hoped.

Sgt. Hernandez says, "We were missioned with 77 new applicants. We exceeded it by far. We hit 104 new applicants for fiscal year 2008 in Odessa."

Their average age is between 17 and 24. They are told upfront, this won't be a cake walk and they're going to have to earn their title.

"I think that's one thing that is kind of a turn on to them.  They want that challenge of becoming a Unites States Marine," he said.