Fort Carson’s top commander, top enlisted soldier and Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers gathered for a "fireside chat" Tuesday on Fort Carson to encourage people to join the Army.
The Army is looking to boost its recruiting during the second annual Army National Hiring Days campaign as the local economy continues to clamor for entry-level workers in the restaurant, bar, hotel and retail industries, and as most of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have lifted throughout the state. According to the Colorado Restaurant Association, roughly 70,000 to 100,000 restaurant jobs that were lost in 2020 have not been refilled.
“The country is coming out of a critical period, the COVID crisis,” Suthers said. “And I think this has caused a lot of people to think about where they fit in. There are a lot of people who lost their jobs in the service industry and they may be thinking, ‘Well, should I pursue a career that maybe isn’t quite so subject to the ups and downs of the economy?’ I would encourage people who are thinking about redirecting their life to think very seriously about going into the military, serving your country.”
Suthers, a long-time public servant and lifelong Colorado Springs resident, shared that his father enlisted in the Army the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
“I don’t think there is any higher public service than serving in our nation’s military,” Suthers said.
Colorado Springs is a heavily military town, with about 40,000 active-duty troops between the Army and Air Force bases and around 100,000 veterans, Suthers said.
Maj. Gen. Matthew W. McFarlane, the commanding general of 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, commissioned into the Army 1992 through a ROTC program at James Madison University in Virginia.
He said the Army has been great for him and his family, allowing him to earn three master’s degrees and serve in places like Italy and Alaska.
“The amount of education and leadership skills you develop really provides you a great foundation to excel in life, whether it’s in the Army or beyond,” McFarlane said. “We are always interested in recruiting the best from across the country, and that’s the purpose of National Hiring Days.”
The second annual Army National Hiring Days campaign ends June 14, on the Army’s 246th birthday. The goal of the five-week campaign is to recruit 1,700 soldiers nationwide, according to a Fort Carson spokeswoman. Last year’s goal was 10,000, but with retention numbers up this year, fewer recruits are needed.
The Army offers more than 150 career fields ranging from infantryman to surgeon. During the campaign, some jobs are eligible for an additional $2,000 bonus. Many other jobs offer signing bonuses between $9,000 and $40,000, and student loan reimbursement up to $65,000 is possible, based on occupation, qualifications and length of the contract. Those interested can visit goarmy.com/army-hiring-days to learn more, connect with a recruiter and to see if you meet the qualifications.
With most Fort Carson soldiers stateside as the war in Afghanistan approaches its 20th anniversary, several hundred soldiers deployed to Los Angeles earlier this year to help administer coronavirus vaccinations to more than 300,000 people in 60 days. Another group of Fort Carson soldiers has been roughly 40 miles south in Pueblo, putting shots into the arms of many in Southern Colorado.
Command Sgt. Maj. Adam Nash, the top enlisted soldier at Fort Carson, couldn’t be prouder of the efforts soldiers are making.
Born and raised in Maine, Nash enlisted in the military straight out of high school in 1995 for educational benefits.
“Once I got into the Army, I fell in love with the profession,” Nash said. “It wasn’t just the excitement that the job brings (or) the new places you get to see.”
He encouraged young adults to consider a career in the Army.
“(Our) greatest assets are the sons and daughters of our nation,” he said. “We come together from all different walks of life, and we all come together to do some extraordinary things.
“Yeah, you’re going to sweat a little bit, you’re going to work some long hours sometimes, but it’s going to help you in the long run become a better person.”