The New York National Guard sent around 3,600 troops to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the state in just the first seven weeks. 

These soldiers and airmen helped out overwhelmed hospital staff, supported tests sites, and distributed well over a million meals by April. 

Major General Timothy LaBarge, the assistant adjutant general of New York state and commander of the New York Air National Guard, says recruitment numbers tapered off a bit when COVID-19 hit, but they are still almost at their goal.

With hospitals just recently starting to resume normal operations, it had been a challenge processing recruits’ medical paperwork.

They also had to shift their recruiting style to more online outreach.  

But production recruiter Mathew Disorbo, at the 109th Airlift Wing in Scotia, says they still have been staying busy.

“We have done numerous things on social media like the 109th Facebook page,” Disorbo explained. “We have 109th Indeed ads out too now showing which kind of career fields we have out here on the base. And we’ve seen a lot of interest in those, which is good. We also have a ton of people calling the office wanting to join the military.”

The Joint Task Force 3 Headquarters was set up at the 109th Airlift Wing, and almost every branch of military passed through there on their way to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the state.

Sergeant Josana Stone at the 109th Airlift Wing located in Scotia explained that with unemployment rates still high in the state, she encouraged her family to join her in the military as well.

“I think it’s great to consider it, and I told my brother this when he first joined our base as well, that at the end of the day you have the military to fall back on,” Stone said. “You have us as a family.”