Michigan National Guard maintains force structure throughout pandemic

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Soldiers from the Michigan National Guard deployed to Iraq in 2019-2020 as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. Photo by 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade.

Fewer than than 1% of Americans serve in the military. The pandemic resulted in new obstacles for the Michigan Army National Guard to maintain the force structure. During these unprecedented times, recruiters continued to keep the Michigan Army National Guard a relevant force.

Sgt. First Class Daniel Hughes and Sgt. Dominique Barone work in recruiting and retention for the Michigan National Guard. Following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s guidance, Barone and Hughes continued to work in the Lansing, East Lansing, and Grand Ledge area. Throughout the recruiting process, Hughes and Barone performed temperature checks on recruits, required mask wearing and social distancing. Once the recruit is enlisted, they are sent to Basic Combat Training where they are required to quarantine upon arrival.

Barone said, “What really helped out was going to different cities or prospects, putting up flyers in windows, talking to store owners and employees that work in the store, putting cards on the desk at the register.”

While seeking out new ways to recruit helped, so did maintaining relationships within the community.

Hughes said, he worked “Just be an asset to the community. I know a lot of people, and I take care of everybody that I’ve ever worked with so most of the people that I wrote were friends of other people that I worked with in the past or currently worked with, whether it be in the Army or on the fire department or wherever.”

Throughout the pandemic, Hughes saw a rise in older, more established professionals enlisting in the Army National Guard.

Hughes said, “We recruited a lot of college graduates and young professionals with certificates. We enlisted a Certified Nursing Assistant, Licensed Practical Nurse, a Registered Nurse and two people that have criminal justice degrees. COVID affected the economy, obviously, so I think a lot of them were either searching for work, struggling to get work, or were laid off. They had time off anyways so why not use the military to boost their resume.”

Editors note: The writer is currently a sergeant in the Michigan National Guard going on six years of service as a UH-60 and CH-47 avionics mechanic. she has an inside perspective on our forces and understands what questions to ask. Her insight allows her to share that perspective with the civilian world through journalism.

Here is more information on recruiting throughout the  pandemic.