Georgia Guard leads the pack - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Georgia Guard leads the pack

October 6, 2005

Dougherty County -- In a time when the military is having a hard time finding a few good men, Georgia's Army National Guard is leads the nation in recruitment.

The Guard enlisted more than 2,000 new and returning citizen soldiers last year. Albany recruiters say with troops overseas, and in the hurricane ravaged gulf coast, new National Guardsmen and women are needed now more than ever.

John Daughtey spends his week teaching math to freshmen at Dougherty High, and his weekends training with the Army National Guard.

The former Marine enlisted in the Guard a year ago. "In light of the events that were going on in the world, I just felt the need to go back. I was in the Marine Corps, I feel like that made a difference. I teach school, I feel like that makes a difference. And I know that the National Guard and their families make a difference every day. I wanted to be a part of that."

Daughtey is one of about 2,000 new citizen soldiers who help push Georgia to the top of the recruitment race.

Sergeant First Class Merryl Gerhardt says Georgia is one of only four states that meet recruitment goals. "This year is the fifth year in a row we've maintained our recruiting goal. We exceeded our recruiting goal by 200. Not many states can do that," Gerhardt said. "It's really marketing, that's what it comes down to. About a year ago, we were at about 63 recruiters statewide and now we've gone to about 124."

Sergeant Gerhardt is always on the phone. "It's a 24-7 job." He coordinates recruitment fairs in school, malls, anywhere he might meet the next National Guardsmen or women.

He says the key to recruiting is finding out what the enlistees wants and delivering it. "We have anything from adventure to training to college education to monetary bonuses of up to $10,000."

For Daughtey is was the chance to help his country and maybe teach his students a lesson in the process. "I tell them the military is a good way to get a start in life - to get some college, see some things, and learn about other people."

Hundreds of Georgia's soldiers are serving in Iraq, and aiding the hurricane relief efforts, so recruiters must continue to find citizens soldiers ready to answer the call.

For more information on the Georgia Army National Guard you 1-800-GO-GUARD.

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