Raphael Vasquez

Lt. Col. Raphael Vasquez, U.S. Army recruiting battalion commander in Salt Lake City, and other Army reps announced an initiative on Monday, June 22, 2020, to recruit 10,000 soldiers nationwide.

NORTH OGDEN — With the coronavirus pandemic putting a damper on many activities, the U.S. Army will be launching a new virtual initiative to recruit 10,000 soldiers across the nation.

This is the time of year, after the school year ends, when recruitment typically ratchets up, focused on high school graduates planning the next phase of their lives, said Lt. Col. Raphael Vasquez, the U.S. Army recruiting battalion commander in Salt Lake City. But with COVID-19 limiting face-to-face contacts, the new effort, dubbed Army National Hiring Days, is focused on reaching out, at least initially, in the virtual sphere.

“I know the local recruiters will be working on this hiring push, and I’ve been meeting/working with the local recruiter stations and ROTC programs to see how I can help in each of those areas,” said Jennie Taylor of North Ogden, civilian liaison in Utah to the Army. It’s the first virtual recruiting push of its type by the Army, according to Army promotional material announcing the plans.

Taylor, Vasquez and other Army reps in Utah took part in a virtual meeting on Monday to get the word out about the effort, formally scheduled to go from June 30-July 2. Those interested can get the process started by going to goarmy.com/hiringdays and filling out an online application. New recruits will be able to tap bonuses of up to $2,000.

Taylor thinks Utah may be ripe grounds for Army recruiters. “We’ve got a really great, patriotic heritage in Utah,” she said.

Moreover, the sort of military roles new recruits can fill ranges well beyond duties with “tanks and grenades.” “The Army has a lot to offer our community, our young people,” she said.

The Army Times, a private publication that covers military matters, noted the impact COVID-19 has had on recruitment. Army National Hiring Days “is set against a recruiting backdrop of struggles after the coronavirus shuttered recruiting stations across the nation this spring. Recruiters were forced to work completely online until May,” the publication reported last week.

New recruits are needed to help with medical functions, according to Lt. Col. Kenneth Lutz, the 6th Army medical recruiting battalion commander. They’re also needed in a broad range of other areas, Army officials told Army Times.

The initiative comes amid a sluggish economy and a jump in joblessness brought on by COVID-19 guidelines calling for scaled-back activity.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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