Will cash attract Guardsmen? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Will cash attract Guardsmen?

January 26, 2005

Fort Stewart, Ga.-- The Army National Guard is turning to bonuses to recruit more soldiers. The Guard is short 15,000 soldiers. To increase recruitment, it's offering $15,000 bonuses to entice active-duty soldiers to stay in the military by joining the Guard.

Hundreds of Georgia Army National Guards are training at Fort Stewart, preparing to deploy to Iraq. Specialist Kevin Wiggins said, "Right now, we're not clear what the mission will be. We just understand that we're going over there and we're going to be in the Bradleys."

The citizen soldiers are now full-time protectors against terrorism. And more national guard soldiers are needed to handle duties on the home front and to possibly replace the troops abroad in the future. "This year our goal is 9,350, and we're currently on track to meet or exceed that goal," said Master Sergeant Dale Shanklin.

Shanklin leads recruitment at Albany's National Guard Armory. He says Georgia exceeded its recruitment goals last year, with more than 150 new recruits in southwest Georgia. But nationally, the Guard is short 15,000 soldiers.

That's why they're offering big dollar bonuses. "To someone that's never been in the military before, we're offering a $10,000 bonus right now. For prior-service that's fulfilled their whole obligation, we're offering a $15,000 bonuses."

Active-duty military personnel will receive a $15,000 signing bonus for coming back for an additional six years. New enlistees sign-on for eight years, promising one weekend a month and two weeks a year.

"The Guard gave me the opportunity to be a part of the military and still continue on with my civilian life," Wiggins recalls.

A civilian life that can be put on hold if called up to serve overseas, like the 2nd Battalion from the Albany Armory.

The Army National Guard also recently added 1,400 recruiters. 193,000 National Guard and Reservists are mobilized right now.

posted at 4:35PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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