SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – In the midst of a workforce shortage all over Siouxland, a volunteer branch of the military is seeing record numbers of new recruits. The Sioux City Air Guard said Siouxlanders are taking advantage of some new long-term volunteer opportunities.
This year there are 866 Air Guard members serving in Sioux City, and about 13 percent of them just signed on this past year. Military leaders said a change in the way they’re able to serve is one factor motivating more people to serve.
“We’re actually in a great region. Everybody is very patriotic around here and very military-friendly, and schools have welcomed us with open arms,” said MSgt. Jerry Anderson, the recruiting office supervisor with Sioux City Air Guard.
That patriotism is shining through in the numbers, as 2019 is now the Sioux City Air Guard’s best recruiting year ever.
“We had a record-breaking year this last year. We had 110 new recruits. That’s like 104 percent manned, so it was a great year for us,” said Anderson.
“People want to go and deploy. They’re excited to go have those experiences,” said Col. Mark Muckey the Commander at the Sioux City Air Guard.
After 36 years of serving in the Air Force, Muckey says he’s seen a dramatic change in people more motivated to serve their country.
“The volunteerism has always been there. The opportunities or the need to go out and fill those positions around the globe just hasn’t been there since the last 10-15 years,” said Muckey.
In the past, the traditional guard scheduled was serving one weekend a month and two weeks a year, but these days, recruits have a different opportunity.
“A lot of people who do want to serve, they’re already asking, ‘Hey, when can I volunteer for certain trips?’ We defiantly have that here,” said Anderson.
Today, members of the Air Guard also have the opportunity to serve 30, 60, or 90-day tours all over the world.
“These people, when they get in, they’re not just looking for their one weekend a month or two weeks a year, they’re looking to want to do extra,” said Anderson.
The Air Guard said the increase in participation is also thanks to the number of Siouxland employers who willing to work around their employee’s Air Guard schedules and deployments.