National Guard Recruitment
Oregon Army National Guard soldiers who served in Iraq are opting to leave the military at a rate significantly higher than normal, according to preliminary numbers released to The Oregonian.No surprise there, many in the guard want to continue to fight and feel a newly deepened camaraderie for their fellow soldier while others just need to get back to their families and normal life. But a little later the article surprises me:
Fewer than half -- between 180 and 190 -- of the Iraq veterans in the Oregon Guard's 1st Battalion, 162nd Infantry, which came home in April, decided to re-enlist. Typically, Guard retention rates hover around 80 percent.
The Oregon Guard usually brings in 1,000 new members each year, Caldwell said. He said he thinks the numbers could drop by 20 percent to 30 percent.I would have expected a much greater drop in recruitment. Why would anyone join the National Guard right now, in 2005? I don't mean that in a snarky, anti-war sort of way, but seriously ask the question. I can easily understand why someone would want to join the "war on terror" and sign up with the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines as a full time job, but why the guard? My understanding is full time service pays better than the guard with better health care and other benefits then combat activated Guardsmen. Not to mention if I'm going to war I want all the training I can get, not the Cliff Notes version. Why join a part time service when you know you will be sent overseas full time anyway?
Sundquist, however, offered a more optimistic outlook. Recruitment totals for the past three months surpassed expectations, she said, and she thinks the Oregon Guard has a realistic shot at achieving the goal of 1,100 new recruits during its 2004-05 fiscal year, which ends in September. She said recent recruitment drives have been aided considerably by new Army signing bonuses of $6,000 to $15,000, depending on the status of the recruit, and by other perks, such as student loan payoffs.
What am I missing?