The billboard displays a phone number and only two English words: “Call Mona.” The rest is in Arabic. But if you can read it, the Army wants you.
The sign, erected to help recruit translators from Detroit’s large Middle Eastern population, urges Arabic speakers to consider joining the military.
“In the land of different opportunities,” it says, “this is one you might not have heard before: job opportunities with the U.S. Army.”
Five years after the invasion of Iraq, the Army says it is meeting or exceeding its goals for recruiting Arabic translators. But despite growing acceptance of the military among Arab immigrants, recruiters acknowledge that much of the immigrant community remains deeply suspicious of the Army.
“At first, it was more hostile from the community. It was at the peak of the invasion,” said Mona Makki, a community liaison and language specialist with a company that helps the Army with recruitment. “They perceive us now in a positive way.”
Hassan Jaber, executive director of the Dearborn-based Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, said the Army has built some credibility in the community, but it is not fully embraced.