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Struggle to get new recruits into military in St. Joseph

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Air Force recruiter photo

Struggle to get new recruits into military in St. Joseph

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Nearly every industry has been impacted by staffing shortages largely caused by the pandemic. But one that's been challenged with this problem is the U.S. military.

The U.S. Armed Forces Career Center here in St. Joe has experienced obstacles to getting more new recruits, and more specifically the U.S. Air Force.

"More specifically, for the Air Force, we're at about 50% less of what we would normally prior to the pandemic be recruiting," Air Force recruiter Technical Sgt. Katrina Smith said.

Smith covers a lot of ground trying to get new recruits because she's the only recruiter in the area.

"I have about 5,200 square miles. So I'm the only active duty Air Force recruiter. So, I have about 48 high schools to myself," Smith said.

She says that going to schools in the area to recruit has been difficult because sometimes recruiters aren't allowed to talk with students. But graduating high school seniors and college seniors are two groups that she tries to get interest from.

"Graduates from, you know, either 2020 or 2021, they didn't get our briefings, they didn't know that the Air Force was here. Or most recently based off of the mandates for getting vaccinated. Right, that is a requirement now," Smith said.

She also mentions that many people don't realize there are hundreds of careers in the Air Force that there could be a good fit for you.

"We have over 130 jobs in the Air Force. The civilian job that you're wanting to do, you can also do in the Air Force," Smith said.

Smith adds that she thinks the younger generation might be considering job security more in their future careers as well.

"It is about job security, and I've noticed that this our younger generation, there are thinking about that. And that is something that the Air Force can, can obviously provide," Smith said.

Smith also says she can't speak for the other branches, but that if you are between 17 and 39 years old the Air Force could be a good option for you. If you're interested in any of the military branches here in St. Joseph you can go to the career center off of north Belt Highway.