Iowa National Guard leader says recruiting continues to be a concern

JOHNSTON — The Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard says their current numbers are strong — but they are facing the challenges that every other organization is facing when it comes to filling their needs.

Major General Ben Corell says they will fall a little short of the recruiting mark he set. “We are on the Army side, right at 100 percent strength as we get ready to close off this federal year at the end of September. On the air side, I think the last numbers I saw were about 98percent,” Corell says. “My goal was to get us at about 105 percent strength across both Army and Air.”

Corell sums it up this way. “I will say it’s not a crisis today — but it is something that we are concerned about,” Corell says. He says they need around 1,000 new recruits every year to fill the openings caused by attrition.

“Some of them have finished out their contract. Some of them will move to a different state for a number of different reasons. But there’s always attrition that goes on within the force,” he says. General Corell says his recruiting team is competing more now with all the other businesses looking for men and women.

“There’s low unemployment, there’s been a surge of increased wages and increased opportunities in the civilian sector. There’s a number of competing challenges that we’ll just continue to work through. It’s a tough problem. But we deal with tough problems every day.” Corell says. Corell says more businesses have turned to one of the key incentives the Iowa Guard has used for years.

“In the corporate world there’s a lot of corporations that are now willing to incentivize young men and women to get a college education — and they’ll pay for either all of it or some of it,” Corell says, “which is similar to what has kind of been our niche for a number of years. We use the Iowa National Guard service scholarship, and that helps pay for college.” There’s been some criticism about younger kids just out of high school not being interested in serving.

Corell says that always seems to be a something that’s said about young people — including when he graduated high school in the 70s. “There was similar talk back then about the new generation. What I see with young men and women that joined today, they’re no different than what I was as a kid growing up,” according to Corell. “They want to serve, they want to make a difference. And those are the people that we want to come in the organization and give them that opportunity to serve their communities, serve the state when the need arises.” And he says there are times when they are called to federal duty in the U.S. or overseas. Corell says he still sees the Iowa and Midwest values of service that he was raised with in the eyes of new recruits.