Economic crunch sends some to National Guard - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Economic crunch sends some to National Guard

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - According to a recent poll, the number of young people interested in the military has increased for the first time in five years. Pentagon officials cite our struggling economy and better news on the war in Iraq for the bump.

Austin David is one such person. He's wanted to join the National Guard since he was a kid. "My dad's in, so it's something I'd been planning on doing," he said. But where his reason for enlisting is one of pure patriotism, he's seeing more people drawn in by the military's financial incentives.

"I've had a few of my friends sign up for the tuition assistance. That's a really big reason."

David isn't alone, according to Major Jason Wisehart. "Anytime you can offer up to one-hundred percent paid tuition to a regent school...that's going to attract some people."

Major Wisehart says a $20,000 signing bonus is one more thing that's making the National Guard a lucrative option for those hit hardest by the economic crunch. Some of his recruits joined up for job security, after being laid off.

He says the number of such cases hasn't increased dramatically in Iowa, but that it could if the current job loss trend continues.

Nationwide, Guard enlistment has more than doubled since 2006. 30,000 new recruits have already signed up this year, compared to 12,000 in 2006.

Wisehart says Iowa hasn't seen the same boom, but has kept steady. "In the last couple years we've increased a little bit, but for the most part, the eastern part of the state as well as the state of Iowa has maintained pretty good posture when it comes to strength."

Iowa's current Guard enlistment is holding steady at around 7,500 servicemen and women.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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