Guard recruitment numbers steadyUnited States Army National Guard recruitment has remained steady in recent years, with a slight increase in 2009, Sgt. First Class Scott Decker said. He is a National Guard recruiter for southwest North Dakota.
United States Army National Guard recruitment has remained steady in recent years, with a slight increase in 2009, Sgt. First Class Scott Decker said. He is a National Guard recruiter for southwest North Dakota.
Over the last seven years, an average of 20 to 22 people in southwest North Dakota were recruited to the National Guard per year, Decker said.
“Last year was exceptional, we got 25,” Decker said. “That was the highest amount since 2000, and that year, in 2000, we had put in 33.”
About 50 percent of recruits in the area are in high school and about 25 percent are in college, Decker said.
Dickinson State University senior Johnny Nguyen, who enlisted in the National Guard about two weeks ago, said the money he will get for college by joining is what attracted him to the service.
“I guess it was just mostly that there was good benefits and mostly to help out my mom so she wouldn’t have to stress out about helping me through the financial part of college,” Nguyan said.
He is studying exercise science, physical education and coaching. He is also a track athlete and a resident adviser at Delong Hall.
Nguyan said he is looking forward to learning new skills in the National Guard.
“It will look good on the resume,” Nguyan said. “It’s giving me a lot of opportunities, actually.”
The economy usually affects the number of National Guard recruits the area gets, Decker said.
“Because of the oilfield, it is tough, but we are still getting a lot of quality recruits,” Decker said.
However, a downturn in the economy can mean more recruits, as people look for stable financial opportunities, Decker said.
Being at war also affects recruitment numbers, Decker said.
“It’s not as hard as when the war first started, but it’s still there,” Decker said. “It’s in the back of these kids’ heads …”
Since the National Guard’s priority is state protection, it may be a more appealing branch of the military for those who don’t want to be involved in combat.
“First and foremost, our first job is state protection — taking care of floods and tornados, any kind of winter operations —that’s our first mission,” Decker said.
“But we also have a secondary mission and that’s defense of the country,” Decker added. “And if the president calls upon the National Guard to augment the Army in any ways, we’re there to do that too.”
However, he said deployment of National Guard soldiers hasn’t happened as frequently in the last three years as when the U.S. first went to war. The last time the Dickinson unit deployed was in 2004, he added.
Nguyan said he does not fear being deployed.
“I’ve always had the mindset that if there was going to be a big war or something, we might get drafted anyways, so I just thought I’d make it easier for them,” Nguyan said. “I’m actually excited. It’s been a thought of mine for a while.”
Decker will be retiring in August after over 21 years of service.