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National Guard Sees Surge in New Applicants Amid Pandemic

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As many are being asked to step away and shelter at home amid the coronavirus pandemic, the National Guard has been asked to step up.

As service members answer the call, they say they’re seeing a surge of new applicants wanting to join them in what is now a humanitarian mission. Students and an increasing number of unemployed workers are among those signing up to enlist and help.

"We have teachers, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs,” Sgt. Daisy Mendoza with the California National Guard said. “So the National Guard is just regular people living in the community who raise their hand.”

In the South Bay, the 223rd Military Intelligence Unit out of San Francisco fills 3,000 food boxes per day at Second Harvest Food Bank. They’ve been at it for two weeks straight. 

Similar units have fanned out across the state — each with a different assignment but a common cause. The Air National Guard assembled a makeshift hospital at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

“They wear the uniform and they come and they help out the community,” Sgt. Jesse Perez with the California National Guard said.

The help has been plentiful thanks to the spike in those looking to join. Some have joined for patriotic reasons. Others are signing up because they lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.

“We’re able to constantly provide those benefits that a lot of people are losing out right now: the low cost health insurance, which is extremely important right now, stable pay," Perez said.

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