Even in this age of the pandemic and its restrictive safety measures, the Army’s mission must go on. That includes recruiting new Soldiers and, from day one of their enlistment, making them resilient and ready with proper training.
This combination met on Fort Lee’s training grounds Dec. 2 when Richmond Recruiting Company representatives coordinated six CASCOM organizations to participate in a livestreamed Total Army Involvement in Recruiting Tour. Active duty troops from Joint Base Langley-Eustis and Virginia Commonwealth University’s Reserve Officer Training Corps took part in the event as well.
The Army-wide TAIR Program helps recruiters reach and influence a targeted audience with help from local military organizations that furnish equipment and personnel upon request by the Recruiting Command. Normally, participating members travel to promotional events; however, due to COVID-19 restrictions, a first-time virtual TAIR tour was carried out with a professional Zoom account as the video conferencing platform.
“We created a flier highlighting the STEM careers we would be spotlighting, then pushed it to the superintendents of local high schools,” elaborated Capt. Jeffrey McGowan, Recruiting Company commander. “Our local recruiters pushed the information out to their principals and other contacts in their areas. We also posted this on all the different social media platforms we have, and we got a lot of buy in (meaning anxious individuals willing to watch).”
The virtual program featured demonstrations and presentations from Sustainment Center of Excellence units such as the Munitions and Explosive Ordnance Training Department, 508th Transportation Company, the 16th and 832nd Ord. battalions, the Joint Culinary Training Center and the 544th Military Police Detachment, MWD.
Master Sgt. Anthony Hillary, senior instructor at EOD, said he was happy to be part of this recruiting effort as he emphasized his field needed more troops.
“As most people are aware, the Improvised Explosive Device threat in the previous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was very high, and that brought to light the importance of having more EOD techs than less,” he said.
“We are bolstering our numbers right now. We’ve reopened in-service recruiting, which is where I came from,” Hillary continued. “If you are prior service and interested in doing something else, we are here for you. We also are obviously pushing for applicants off the street, and we are looking for EOD officers as well.”
Hillary’s presentation showed viewers the jobs EOD techs do and the tools they use such as the bomb suit and robots to defuse IEDs. The master sergeant then talked about his background and why he joined the Army. When he finished, participants were invited to ask questions.
“What does the ASVAB (scored) need to be for EOD?” participant Scott Fee asked.
“Ok, we’re looking for a 105 on the GT score,” Hillary quickly answered.
Other questions and answers were a bit more involved. Hillary wrapped up EOD’s 15-minute segment with what the Army can do for those interested in joining.
“The Army has given me everything I have, not just monetarily,” Hillary said. “Truly, I came from nothing as I grew up in a very small town in West Virginia. The Army has provided me the opportunity to make a good living. I’ll also be very young when I retire, and I have literally traveled the world. This has been an awesome opportunity for me.”
The segments following EOD’s focused on 88-Mikes (motor transport operator) loading and unloading a flatbed truck; 91-Bravos (wheeled vehicle mechanic) presenting some of the vehicles they learn to maintain such as the Stryker; and 91-Hotels repairing tracked vehicles. The last two presentations spotlighted 31-Kilos, Military Working Dog handlers, and 92-Golfs, culinary specialists.
Staff Sgt. Nicholas A. Davis, a Joint Culinary Center of Excellence instructor, led a lively presentation of the food and equipment used to feed a large number of troops out in the field.
“If you ask me to talk to people and tell them what I do, you won’t be able to stop me,” he said off-camera before he did indeed launch into an enthusiastic rendition of his favorite topics: Army food and how to prepare and serve it to troops.
“Got to feed some people those ribs you saw out there? This is what you are going to use,” he said while pointing out the features of a containerized field kitchen. “It comes with a full assortment of tools and essentials – pots, pans, whatever you need to cook on a large scale. This is a cast iron griddle – bacon, eggs, you name it, we got it, and we’re going to cook it right here.”
He then moved around the kitchen to further highlight the tools Army cooks have at their disposal to prepare a rib dish with a side of sweet potato casserole. After finishing the first portion of his presentation, he moved to the bigger of the two systems, saying it’s “definitely not your grandmother’s kitchen.”
“This containerized kitchen is capable of feeding 800 Soldiers three times a day. That’s 2400 hundred meals (total) off this one piece of equipment,” he boasted.
Davis then moved on to the benefits of being an Army culinary specialist.
“We know what you can do for the Army; let’s talk about what the Army can do for you. As a 92G, you can be stationed anywhere in the world,” he said. “You want to see Japan? There’s a duty station there. There’s a duty station in Italy. I was stationed in Germany. We are talking about places people save a lifetime to visit or never get to see at all, and the Army will pay you to go there.
“Those of you (considering) a career in culinary arts may be familiar with the American Culinary Federation. The Army provides you the chance to get certified from junior level all the way up to master chef. You want to know where the money is, just get that master chef certification.”
After all the presentations were completed, McGowan expressed his satisfaction with the day’s virtual broadcast.
“All of this went really well, and we are so grateful to the units at Fort Lee for once again helping us with our TAIR program,” he said. “I’m sure we will do more of these in the future, even after COVID. Virtual platforms give us the ability to do these in a shorter period of time, instead of traveling over a week from school to school like we normally do. It allows whatever group that wants to participate to jump on and educators as well can see what the Army’s about by joining in virtually. It opens up a new way to get the Army’s messages out.”