ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (WDRB) -- When Lucian DeWitt was ready to graduate from high school, he was pretty sure army training would be in his future. 

"I sat down and talked with one of the recruiters, with one of my friends. He signed up, and I didn't sign up."

The future went a different way for DeWitt. He ended up at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College.

"I really got into the electrical field, and I'm pursuing a two-year degree," he said.

His story is only one of the many that army recruiters have heard before. 

"We want to keep quality soldiers in, and quality is the educated soldier," said Capt. Jesse Alcock from the U.S. Army.

Instead, the army is getting applicants who aren't making the cut.

"They were failing the tests, failing to meet the minimum requirements," Alcock said. "They're not as educated on the benefits that we offer. For example, the college education benefits that we give them and the free healthcare."

So $300 million in bonuses and advertising will be used nationwide to get the right people on the front lines.

"I just take that as an opportunity to put quality soldiers in to protect our nation," Alcock said.

The hope is to recruit 6,000 more soldiers. That would be the biggest increase since the days of the draft.

Several years after graduation, DeWitt is satisfied with the choice he made, at least for now. 

"I'm never going to rule (the army) out," he said.

But if this branch of the military is going to stay "army strong," it needs this to be a first choice and not a backup.

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