National Guard offers signing bonus amid recruitment hurdles

U.S.

(NewsNation) — The Air National Guard in Iowa is offering $20,000 signing bonuses to new recruits as other branches of the military struggle to meet recruitment goals.

While military officials say there are a lot of reasons for the shortfall in recruits, incentives, bonuses or free tuition are not unique to the military anymore.

“Our youth today are just not as interested in serving in the military as they have been in the past,” said Col. Trenton Twedt, Iowa Air National Guard director of staff.

Officials with the National Guard said there are several factors driving recruitment challenges, including a shortage of trained recruits, fitness qualifications for those who do want to serve, and the pandemic — which limited in-person recruiting at schools.

“It just keeps compounding to where you just have a smaller and smaller pool to try and target to join the military,” Twedt said. 

Retired Maj. Gen. William Enyart of the U.S. Army said the Army National Guard was 8,000 recruits short in Sept. 2021.

“It’s the same reason that you see help wanted signs out all across this nation,” Enyart said. “We’re recruiting the best and the brightest; we’re recruiting the same people that every employer out there wants to hire.”

It’s an issue that is affecting most of the military.

The Army told Congress that by October of 2022, they will miss their target of recruits by almost 30,000 individuals.

“A recruiting challenge today actually has long-term effects over the next 20 to 30 years,” said military readiness expert Kate Kuzminski.

Enyart believes lowering standards for recruits would be a last resort.

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