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By Barbara Wilson, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office
SPRINGFIELD, Illinois – Despite social media chatter, a positive COVID-19 test does not disqualify individuals from joining the military including the Illinois National Guard.
“If you have completely recovered from COVID-19, then there is nothing in the Department of Defense guidance that says you can’t enlist,” said Lt. Col. Darren Horton of Williamsville, the Commander of the Illinois Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion. “There are some measures built into the guidance to ensure the safety of the force, but we can still consider qualified candidates for enlistment despite a previous COVID-19 diagnosis.”
According to a May 6 Department of Defense policy, an applicant for appointment, enlistment or induction into the military services “with a history of COVID-19, confirmed by either a laboratory test or clinician diagnosis, will be authorized to process 28 days after the documented date of diagnosis.”
If the applicant was hospitalized for COVID-19, then the applicant would be considered disqualified. However, with a review of the applicant’s full hospital treatment records, the applicant may qualify for a medical waiver and be allowed to enlist.
The National Guard serves a dual mission, said Command Sgt. Maj. Johnny O’Brien of Sherman with the Illinois Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion.
“We have a federal mission and a state mission,” he explained. “Our Governor has activated more than 1,000 Soldiers and Airmen for the COVID-19 response operations. This is a great chance to showcase what the Illinois National Guard is really here for. It’s great to have our Soldiers and Airmen available to help their neighbors and communities. People take pride in it. In times like this many people in the community also step up and help their neighbors, community and the overall greater good.”
There are many military jobs open to those who want to serve in the Illinois National Guard, according to O’Brien.
“Infantry, Field Artillery, Communications, Medical and Cyber Security are among our top jobs,” he said. “You name it, we have it somewhere in Illinois.”
O’Brien said that not only do you get to serve your community, state and nation, but there are some great benefits of being in the National Guard.
“Some of our jobs have an enlistment bonus of up to $20,000,” he said. “In addition, the Illinois National Guard has great education benefits and provides great job skills.”
In addition to enlistment bonuses, education benefits and job skills, O’Brien said the Illinois National Guard instills a pride in serving your country.
“No matter what you’re looking for, whether it’s job skills, education benefits or just the pride of serving your country; we can satisfy your needs,” he said.
There are many ways to talk to an Illinois National Guard recruiter while still practicing safe social distancing, according to O’Brien.
“We can be reached through the National Guard website and through the Illinois National Guard and the Illinois National Guard Recruiting Facebook pages,” he said.
The Army National Guard has several store-front recruiting offices throughout Illinois which are open by appointment only as well as recruiters in readiness centers throughout Illinois. Civilians interested in enlisting in the Illinois Army National Guard should contact their local recruiter or go to www.nationalguard.com/IL for information or by telephone at (800) GO-GUARD. Those interested in enlisting in the Illinois Air National Guard may contact (800) TO-GO-ANG or call the wing recruiters in Springfield, Peoria or Scott Air Force Base. A full list of phone numbers of both Army National Guard and Air National Guard recruiters is available at www.il.ngb.army.mil/contact-us.