The last 12 months have been tough for Tamworth, but for the 12/16 Hunter River Lancers recruitment has rarely been better.
In a year in which the region battled drought, fire and now the COVID-19 pandemic, more young locals indicated interest in signing up for the local reserve unit than ever.
It's part of a national trend of increased recruitment army-wide, with a reported 40 per cent spike in enlistment year-on-year in April alone.
But Regimental Sergeant Major Warrant Officer Class One Grant Gripske said it's always been a good time to sign up at the 12/16 Hunter River Lancers.
"I think people have always looked at defence for a career for financial stabilisation as well," he said.
"I think it will continue to be like that. It is definitely great for both sides of things and I can certainly attest to that."
WO1 Gripske has spent 24 years in the army after joining up alongside a group of friends.
More people than ever are choosing to sign up for both reserve and regular units, he said, thought he couldn't put a number on the increase locally. He put the spike down to better recruiting options and marketing.
"I think that defence recruiting have definitely utilised the social media platforms to get the messages out there for defence, so I think that plays a large part in why recruiting's spiked in the last 12 months."
Asked if people were looking for stability after drought, bushfires and COVID-19 he said uncertain times could deter people from signing up as much as encourage them.
"It always has been a good option, whether it's in drought or hard times," he said.
"I don't think you can put it down to any particular point.
"If you look at the drought for instance there's so much work to be done at the farm three times a day, can they actually get away from their farms to be able to conduct the training and want to take part in reserve time?
"It does have its challenges on both sides of the coin."
Tamworth's 12/16 Hunter River Lancers is open 5 days a week. They do physical testing every Wednesday afternoon at 3pm which can be an opportunity for residents to get an idea of what army life is like.
The Australian Defence Force was processing 39,000 aspiring recruits in April, according to the Sydney MorningHerald.
It was the highest level of recruitment in at least four years.
Recruitment also increased during the 2009 Global Financial Crisis, though not as quickly, the paper reported.