The Minnesota National Guard did not want to lose Mohamed Mohamud.
The high school senior was eager to enlist, but his mother, a refugee of Somalia's brutal civil war, balked. Where Mohamud saw new experiences and money for college, his family saw danger. So the Guard took the unusual step of sending a longtime Muslim member to Mohamud's home to address his family's fears and secure their blessing.
Somali-Americans have enlisted in the Guard and U.S. military for years, but by all accounts, the numbers have remained low. As in Mohamud's case, recruiters come up against concerns about balancing service and the Muslim faith, the anxiety of refugees who fled armed conflict — and, some acknowledge, their own lack of awareness of the growing community.