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LATINO-RECRUIT_035_CG.JPG Sgt. Robert Marin, right, speaks with Julian Zaragosa, 18, of Oakland, at the U.S. Army's recruiting tent at the Cinco de Mayo festivities in the Fruitvale District of Oakland, Ca., on Sunday, May 7, 2006. Story is about sold

Source: San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images / Getty

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Army National Guard faces several recruiting challenges. One significant issue is the competition for talent in a job market with diverse employment opportunities. Indiana’s strong agricultural and manufacturing sectors often attract potential recruits away from military service.


The Army Guard has not been able to meet its recruiting goal since fiscal year 2019, but in fiscal year 2021, it achieved 80.6% of its target. The Army Guard’s exceptional retention rate has made up for the shortfall in its recruitment.


“People just aren’t interested,” said Dustin Tolbert, Indiana Army National Guard Recruiter. “Direct, measurable challenges that we have civilian employers are competing with our benefits. They are not necessarily outpacing us, and we have some policies that aren’t necessarily assumably outdated, such as our grooming standards. It seems like this younger generation is more about personal identity.”


Another hurdle is the state’s strong economy, which provides many employment opportunities, often making it difficult to attract individuals to a military career. The talent competition is fierce, especially in industries like agriculture, manufacturing, and technology, which are prominent in the state.


Tolbert says the Guard is hosting a recruitment celebration kickoff Thursday in Indianapolis.


“Our big push will be educating them on the benefits and recent changes to our education policies, now that we pay for private institutions and our referral enlistment program, where if you refer someone to the National Guard, you could earn $1,000.”


Demographic shifts in Indiana, including an aging population, have also resulted in a smaller pool of eligible recruits. To counter these obstacles, the Indiana Army National Guard must employ creative and targeted recruiting strategies, emphasizing the unique benefits of military service and the opportunities it offers for personal and professional growth.


The Indiana Army National Guard recruiters will organize a kickoff celebration at the Indiana War Memorial Plaza on Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m.


They will be available to discuss various topics such as community support, ways to give back to the community, the challenges involved in talent acquisition, and the referral enlistment program.


This public event will showcase military vehicle displays, interactive displays, food trucks, and an inflatable obstacle course.