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Air Force aims to boost recruitment after COVID impact

Shelly Womack
Airmen stand at attention while the national anthem plays at Dyess Air Force Base

Over the past few years, the U.S. military has experienced a drop in recruitment nationwide. Military officials point to the pandemic and a smaller military as contributing to the problem. The 344th Recruiting Squadron for the United States Air Force covers parts of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. The squadron met its recruiting goal by 114% during the last quarter, but recruitment offices in other parts of the country are struggling to meet goals.

Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Werner is the commander of the 344th RCS. He says that COVID had a major impact on recruitment, as Air Force recruiters were unable to visit high schools, junior colleges, and universities, “For a long time many students were not in school, and then for a long time when students did go back to school we didn’t have our recruiters there.” Werner says another challenge in recruiting is a smaller military, leaving young people without a legacy of parents, grandparents and others in the armed forces encouraging them to join.

The 344th RCS has not yet set a recruitment goal for the upcoming quarter, but Werner says recruiters are returning to schools within the squadron’s district looking to recruit young men and women for 130 types of jobs within the Air Force.