Putting Family First
Monika Diaz reports
KAUFMAN COUNTY - Three-and-a-half million Americans have lost their jobs since the recession started; half of those layoffs have come in just the last three months.
During those same 90 days, Army recruitment numbers have soared.
It's a trend touching every branch of the military. The benefits and the bonuses are luring more and more North Texans to sign up.
Kenneth Galan's family gathered at his suburban Kaufman County home Sunday to celebrate his decision to put his own family first by putting his own life at risk.
Galan, an auto parts employee at a car dealership, enlisted in the Texas National Guard after the struggling economy hit home. "My paycheck was pretty much cut in half," he said.
Galan found even more disappointment while searching for another job. "We tried looking for more jobs, more work, but there's not a whole out there," he said. "There isn't a whole lot of opportunity out there."
Galan said he found more than opportunity in the Guard; he's getting a paycheck while training, along with medical benefits and a $20,000 signing bonus.
"I'm trying to take care of my family," he said. "It seems like the right thing to do, the right time."
Galan is not alone. Across the board, the armed forces are seeing a jump in recruits as a sagging economy fills up the ranks.
Staff Sgt. David Lopez, a Texas National Guard recruiter, said his phone has been ringing off the hook. "Every day I get phone calls from different people, different ages, marital status," he said. "They are having trouble finding a job, so they come to us."
Galan's wife Jessica knows his decision comes with plenty of risk - but they couldn't wait for a change in the economy. "We wanted to handle it before it became a crisis," she said, adding that she is proud of her husband's sacrifice.
"It's about family," she said. "It's about providing for your family, about bettering yourself."
Kenneth Galan leaves for basic training on February 18.