Retention skyrocketed during the pandemic for most components of the military, including the Guard. Last year, the Guard sought to retain nearly 33,624 soldiers who were scheduled to leave and kept an additional 5,000 while hitting its recruiting goals. But this year, as the pandemic has abated and vaccines have been broadly available, those numbers fell dramatically.
"COVID scrambled so many industries and people faced financial insecurity," said Nathalie Grogan, a research associate for the Military, Veterans, and Society Program at Center for a New American Security, a Washington, D.C., think tank. "A lot of guardsmen probably stayed longer than they would have. The deployments were for mostly a good reason, but that put a lot of stress on the [Guard] and families, and family is the top reason people leave."
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