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The Army National Guard is struggling to attract recruits in the Mountain West – except in Nevada

Nevada National Guard soldiers watch a fiery explosion in the middle of the desert during military training.
Nevada National Guard
The 609th Engineer Company of the Nevada Army National Guard conducts training at Fort Irwin, Calif.

The Army National Guard is falling short of its recruitment goals, and while most of the Mountain West is struggling to attract people to enlist, one state in the region is bucking the national trend.

The Nevada Army National Guard met 95% of its recruitment goal set by the National Guard Bureau in fiscal year 2022 that ended Sept. 30, according to officials. That ranked second in the nation, trailing only New York, which recruited 103% of its goal.

Capt. Emerson Marcus, Nevada National Guard public affairs officer, said the state’s booming population is one of several reasons for their recruitment success.

“Members of our leadership have really put an incentive on diversity, equity and inclusion in the force,” said Marcus, noting the Nevada Army Guard recruited 312 service members in the last fiscal year. “We have created a workplace that’s inclusive and it’s attractive for members of our state.”

Utah was the Mountain West state with the next most successful recruiting effort, meeting 78% of its goal. Arizona met 60% of its goal, followed by Montana (54%), Wyoming (53%), New Mexico (51%), Idaho (49%), and Colorado (48%).

Nationally, the Army Guard says it fell short of its goal by about 12,000recruits, leaving the Guard more than 6,000 people below its authorized total of 336,000.

In fiscal year 2023, the Guard could lose 9,000 members who are refusing to get the required COVID-19 vaccine. As of early November, no Guard members have been discharged over noncompliance with the vaccination policy.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Kaleb is an award-winning journalist and KUNR’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter. His reporting covers issues related to the environment, wildlife and water in Nevada and the region.
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