Military recruiters in the Ozarks report shortages of recruits

Published: May. 5, 2022 at 11:46 AM CDT|Updated: May. 5, 2022 at 4:28 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Military recruiters need a few good men and women.

Recruiters at the Air Force Recruitment Office in Springfield began reporting shortages when the pandemic started. Joshua Orphan, Technical Sergeant in the Air Force, said his team is beginning to get to more events and see recruits face to face. Orphan said they used to do video chats, but they were not as interactive.

The U.S. Military offers enlistment bonuses in different fields from $3,000 to $50,000. It also provides multiple education benefits, such as tuition assistance and community college.

Even with widespread recruitment shortages across the U.S. military, incoming recruits, Isaias Zuniga and Hailey Harwood, both Kickapoo High School students, said they are excited to join the army after graduation.

“I would like to try and make a difference no matter how big or small,” said Harwood.

“I was with my dad one day, and I just told him like, hey, Dad, I’m going to the army,” said Zuniga. “He was like, really? He’s like, I’m so proud of you and all that.”

Zuniga and Harwood are excited for their journey to start.

“My mom started to cry,” said Zuniga.

“Go Army beat Navy,” said Harwood.

Technical Sergeant Orphan said the pandemic gave them headaches with recruitment.

“Limited our visibility quite a bit with the local communities,” said Technical Sgt. Orphan.

Technical Sergeant Orphan said they had to video chat with recruits and weren’t as interactive, hurting all branches.

“Just for the fact that we couldn’t physically go to places,” said Technical Sgt. Orphan. “That kind of cut the legs off of us.”

Harwood and Zuniga both have siblings serving and said the benefits are worth it.

“I’ll get my EMT certification and everything and learn how to become a doctor,” said Harwood.

“Still going to be studying for a career while I’m in the army,” said Zuniga. “I Want to be a chef.”

Technical Sergeant Orphan said if recruiting needs continue, our nation could be at risk.

“Main job is to defend the country in the space, air, and cyberspace domains,” said Technical Sgt. Orphan. “If we have a shortage now, our national defense is going to suffer in the long run.

If you are interested in joining any military branch, reach out to your local recruiting office.

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