Midway through their senior years, many Tazewell County teens now ponder the first decision of their adult lives, what to do after high school.


If they’re considering one of five options — U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard — the first on that list just got more attractive.


The Army this week announced it’s seeking to draw 6,000 active-duty and 1,500 Army Reserve recruits in addition to its original goals for the 2017 fiscal year. Deadline for that mission is Oct. 1.


For the branch’s recruiting area that includes central Illinois, the goal is now 2,395 new soldiers, an increase of 250.


The Army’s overall goal is 68,500 new recruits, an increase of 6,000 that was authorized by budget increases in the National Defense Authorization Act approved by Congress just before Christmas.


It marks “the largest in-year (recruiting) mission increase” in the branch’s history, an Army recruiting Command news release stated.


To meet the goal, the Army has budgeted $200 million in incentive bonuses and significantly increased the number of two-year enlistment opportunities.


Bonuses for certain service occupations will reach $40,000, twice the current level, said Joseph Jobin, advertising and public affairs chief for the Army’s Indianapolis Recruiting Battalion, which supervises recruiting centers in Tazewell, Peoria and Woodford counties.


Two-year enlistments, as opposed to more traditional four-year terms, will be offered for 90 occupations, Jobin said. Offered before but not recently, they’ll provide high-schoolers with greater options to shape their future.


“They won’t have to commit to a full four years to find out whether they’d like to pursue an Army career or other options,” such as college after a two-year break from classes, Jobin said. The shorter hitch will still allow soldiers to earn money for college under the GI Bill, he said.


Officers from the Army Recruiting Center in Pekin, which covers Tazewell, are already spreading word of the new incentives at area high schools, Jobin said. He and a sergeant stationed at the center said no specific recruiting goal numbers have been assigned to it.


Jobin urged students “to reach out to a recruiter like they would a career adviser” to discuss their options in the Army and the military’s other branches, which also seek to increase this year’s recruitment numbers.


The Army, meanwhile, plans to spend another $100 million on marketing efforts to reach new recruits through national and local advertisement campaigns.


Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin