The National Guard in Kansas and other states is trying a new tactic to boost recruiting, paying guardsmen $2,000 for each person they recruit on their own initiative.
Called the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program, it encourages guardsmen to recruit new members from their friends, co-workers, relatives and other acquaintances who qualify.
"Many guardsmen talk to their friends and neighbors, and they're the ones they get in (the Guard) anyway," said Joy Moser, spokeswoman for the Kansas Adjutant General's Department. "It's kind of nice to give them a little bit of incentive for what they've been doing."
A soldier or airman interested in participating in the program must complete an online training program and is then hired as a recruiting assistant. After meeting with a recruitment officer, the recruiting guardsman gets a kit that includes a fleece jacket, polo shirt with program logo as well as "ask me" T-shirts. Bumper stickers, business cards and other items also are provided.
"Our soldiers and airmen are the best advertisement for the National Guard," said Lt. Col. Lester Gellhaus, recruiting and retention officer for the Kansas Guard.
About 15 days after a recruit's enlistment, the guardsman who did the recruiting gets $1,000 credit placed on a cash card. A second $1,000 is added when the recruit goes to basic training.
Figures were not available Monday, but the number of recruits fluctuates, Moser said. "We do need people," she said, adding that spring is a prime recruiting season.
"This is the time of year when a lot of kids are making decisions because they are getting out of high school or college, and they are trying to decide what to do with their lives," Moser said.