National Guard retention increases after the U.S. military struggled to attract new members
The National Guard saw a large wave of reenlistment of its members to end 2021, some say bonuses and local impact are the causes.
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The United States military sees reenlistment numbers double as more National Guard and Army members reap benefits and provide pandemic assistance.
As schools and universities closed, the military faced complications recruiting young people in 2020 and 2021. But on Tuesday, the Department of Defense released data showing a rapid interest in active duty member reenlistment.
With the emergence of hospital staff shortages, supply chain issues, and several natural disasters that swept the country, the U.S. military has had to take up additional tasks to serve their sworn duty.
"We believe that it is because of the impact that our service members have made during this COVID pandemic," Army Brigadier General Isabel Rivera Smith said to AP.
Part of members' growing interest to reenlist has been driven by pandemic incentives, and a desire to serve locally. In 2022, the military is offering enlistment pay up to $50,000 in cash for a six-year term, and four-year bonuses for reenlistment.
The Army saw about 57,500 new recruits in September 2021, whereas the National Guard did not meet their fiscal year goal of welcoming 8,000 new members to its 34,658 recruits.
An active duty military strength report from the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), shows the Coast Guard closed out 2021 with about 31,491 members enlisted, and the Army with 384,556 members.
With the number of unvaccinated active members, states have had to revisit how many are available to send out to provide COVID-19 relief in hospitals.
The U.S. military continues to encourage high school and college graduates to recruit, as well as enlisted members to sign up for extended service due to the pandemic’s squeeze on American resources.
Congress still has yet to approve a defense budget for 2022, with talks scheduled to resume on Feb. 18. The Navy fears recruits may be cut and new ships delayed.