Iowa National Guard recruiters are having to turn away some men and women who want to join their ranks. In recent years, up to 1,500 people have enlisted every year, maintaining the state’s Army and Air Guard strength levels at 100%.
Guard spokesman Colonel Greg Hapgood says Iowans are patriotic, plus, the economy makes the military a strong career choice.
“There’s not a waiting list, per se, but if you have a specific thing you want to do and that’s the only thing want to do, you may have to wait in order to let those spaces clear out,” Hapgood says. “In the Iowa Air National Guard, they do have some waiting for certain slots, depending on what those slots are.”
He says to help balance supply and demand, they’ve lowered the maximum enlistment age and raised test score qualifications. Hapgood says there aren’t enough open jobs for the men and women who want to wear the uniform.
“Congress only funds the National Guard up to so many people and when you start to exceed that number, that’s when they withhold funding for programs,” Hapgood says. “We want to make sure that we’re at the level we’re supposed to be so we don’t jeopardize any funding to train our soldiers and airmen, equip them and to make them the best possible ready force.”
Two months into the current fiscal year, the Army Guard has already reached 35% of its recruitment requirement. Hapgood says anyone wanting to try and join should do so before spring.