The Army has begun a major investigation of its recruiters in Virginia and allegations that the award-winning Richmond recruiting district has been giving potential recruits the answers to entrance exams.
"The Army has been cheating. It's rigged," said Steve Myers, a 24-year-old Army medic from Norfolk. Myers claims at least one-third of the entrance exam he took last spring at a Virginia testing center near Richmond was filled in with the correct answers when the exam was passed out.
Myers is scheduled to meet with Army investigators in Richmond this afternoon. A Richmond spokesman for the recruiting command said "its the first time I've heard of such an allegation. I'm just amazed."
The investigation, begun Monday, was prompted by a computer analysis of test results that "pointed toward possible unauthorized assistance in preparing for the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery," said Maj. Jeff Cook, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon.
The investigation of the Richmond district, which covers the entire state except the Washington suburbs and far Southwest Virginia and includes 64 active Army recruiters, is an extension of a nationwide probe that now involves nine of the 57 recruiting districts.
Most Army recruiting districts have been unable to meet their quotas this year, the worst the Army has had since it went to all-volunteer status in 1973.
But the Richmond district already has surpassed its 1979 objective of 3,373 men and is operating at "104 percent of its objective," according to an Army spokesman. It has received a dozen plaques and commendations for its recruiting performance over the past four years.
The 13-part exam is given to all Army applicants and is designed to measure the intelligence and job preference of the candidate. A Defense Department booklet offering sample exam questions has this example: "'Discovered' most nearly means: a. searched b. found c. enlarged d.entered."
About 28 percent of those who take the exam fail it, according to Army spokesmen.
Myers, an army medic from 1972 to 1976 who rejoined last spring to become a medical specialist, said he raised his hand and told an Army sergeant administering the exam of the partially filled in answer form. He was advised, "Don't worry about it. Continue the test," Myers said.
During a break in the three-hour exam, several of those taking the test joked about being given the answers in advance, said Myers, who is on 30 day's leave while he convaleses from a motorcycle accident.
"The Army is cheating," he said. "They're letting in people that shouldn't be in the Army, who can't read.
"It's just ruining the Army," said Myers, who intends to make a career of the service.