WASHINGTON – National Guard ( search) recruitment has dropped nearly 30 percent nationwide, but Georgia is one of a handful of states that is not following that trend.
The Georgia Army National Guard has increased strength for five years, said Lt. Col. Pete Van Amurgh.
"It is kind of an anomaly given some of the other states going on here right now," Van Amurgh said. "We have exceeded all of our recruiting goals."
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Georgia has been able to exceed other states by anticipating the potential recruiting slump early and developing a strategic plan, Van Amurgh said. The state's more businesslike approach and additional recruiters with combat experience has also helped with credibility, he added.
"We have essentially doubled the number of recruiters we have here in the state in the last year and that has had a significant impact on our improvement," Van Amurgh said.
Georgia's Guard has also opened new storefront recruiting centers in areas of the state that have never been served.
Dominique Thomas, a high school senior who was recently recruited, said her recruiter and patriotism helped her make an easy decision to join.
"I joined the National Guard to help support my country," Thomas said.
Recruiters point to their policy of honesty and reassurance that helps attract new soldiers, even though their tour of duty may go beyond typical assignments.
"It is a 50 percent chance that they have to go over to serve but most of them are coming in because that is what they want to do. They want to serve," said Sgt. Jovell Vappie, a recruiter.
More than 90 percent of the Georgia Army National Guard has been called to active duty over the past two years. With recruiters in high gear, the state's guard anticipates another positive year and hope recruitment will improve nationwide as other states look to Georgia's proven success.