The National Guard claims to be facing stiff competition in recruitment from the private sector.

And while that notion may bring to mind high-paying STEM jobs at major companies like Google, Apple, IBM and the like, it is a more surprising industry that has drawn the particular ire of Guard officials: Fast food.

“It’s Wendy’s,” Nevada Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Marco Irenze said. “It’s Carl’s Jr. It’s every job a young person goes up against, because they’re offering the same incentives that we are right now.”

While the Army National Guard has crossed the baseline threshold for recruitment this year by a margin of 699 soldiers, things on the Air side aren’t going as well in the war against Wendy’s.

“This is the most challenging recruiting environment the Department of Defense has probably ever faced,” said Col. Anthony Pasquale, division chief of Air National Guard recruiting and retention. “Projections for where we’ll land, we could land anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 short.”

Guard officials cited competitive wages and schedule flexibility in private industry as a major hindrance in the recruitment process.

Whereas covering the cost of education through Veterans Affairs programs was formerly a huge incentive to join the military, companies like Wendy’s now offer tuition reimbursement as well.

And of course, employees also benefit from food discounts on such tasty dishes as the Baconator, an item considered significantly more pleasurable than MREs or chow hall dishes.

Stay (chocolate) Frosty.

Observation Post is the Military Times one-stop shop for all things off-duty. Stories may reflect author observations.

Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.

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