By Dave Jordan, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The military reported they were struggling to make its recruitment quotas, but the number of those enlisting has recently grown.
New figures show the Army exceeded its recruiting goals for the last three months of 2008 and so did the Oklahoma National Guard. Many believe the recession is the reason for the spike in enlistment.
It was a factor when 24-year-old Christopher Nash made the decision to join the National Guard.
"With the economy down, it's harder to find a good-paying job," Nash said.
Nash was working for an oil well company and wanted to become a petroleum engineer, but college costs and mounting economic woes kept him from that goal.
"The Guard opens up a lot more opportunities for me to do more of what I want to do instead of what I have to do," Nash said.
It's the same trend playing out nationwide. In the first quarter of the new fiscal year, the Army recruited more than 24,000 new soldiers. Nash is one of Sergeant Travis Stoeser's five new recruits.
"I've had great success," Sgt. Stoeser said. "I enjoy doing it and I think that carries on to the recruiting side of it."
Sgt. Stoeser has been recruiting for two years and said even in a down economy, the Oklahoma National Guard never had problems finding a few good men or women to join its ranks, but he understands why many are taking a look at Uncle Sam.
"If you want to go to college, we're the option for you," Sgt. Stoeser said. "If you want full-time employment, we got that as well. We cater to anybody's needs."
Nash said he's in service long-term.
"I want to just go as far as the military would let me go," Nash said.
Nash admits his family wasn't initially sold on his decision to join the guard, but they quickly came around.
He leaves for basic training in August.