Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
The Army’s first National Hiring Days campaign is June 30 through July 2. During the three-day effort, the Army’s goal is to hire 10,000 new soldiers.
A panel of experts and soldiers participated in a two-part roundtable discussion to answer questions about the campaign and share their experiences via telecon and Facebook live June 23 from the Lewis and Clark Center’s Marshall Lecture Hall.
“It is really the Army’s response to, ‘How do we operate in a world since COVID?’ The Army realized it had to come up with a way that it could effectively and safely still get out there to recruit the next generation of soldiers,” said Lt. Col. Keith Baranow, Kansas City Recruiting Battalion commander. “Luckily, the Army has been operating in the virtual space for the last 24 months, but that was a secondary measure. It still relied on that direct face-to-face contact. Since COVID, we’ve learned to better operate in a virtual space, and Army National Hiring Days is the next evolution.
“This is more than just Facebook posting and Instagram or videos. It’s every soldier in the Army— from the most senior leaders in the Army down to the newest private — getting out there telling the Army story, telling their Army story, the benefits that come with service and any opportunities that the Army provides,” he said. “We’re all working together toward this one goal. It’s basically a team effort, and I don’t think the team is going to fail on this one.”
Panelists included Baranow; Patrick Warren, civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army; 40th Military Police Battalion (Detention) Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Haliburton; Col. Charles Rambo, head of credentialing and continuing education services at Army University; Sgt. Jellisa Shontelle Jones, human resources specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 40th MP Battalion; and Dr. (Col.) Matthew Fandre, Combined Arms Center command surgeon.
The first part of the event was a question-and-answer segment with area media who participated via telecon. During that portion, panelists answered questions about targeted age demographics, basic Army requirements, the benefits of Army service, campaign strategies, and other recruitment efforts outside the campaign.
The second part of the event was a moderator-led question-and-answer segment that was broadcast live on the Kansas City Recruiting Battalion Facebook page. The session was led by Maj. Orlandon Howard, CAC Public Affairs operations officer.
Questions addressed the campaign as well as the panelists’ different experiences and benefits of their personal military occupational specialties.
Haliburton discussed the uniqueness of being a military policeman.
“It’s the only law enforcement agency in the country … where an 18-year-old patriot of this country can carry a pistol and enforce law,” Haliburton said. “That’s a great opportunity and provides additional opportunities post service and it’s a phenomenal job to have.
“We have everything from protective services, from canine to corrections and detention specialists to criminal investigative services to military investigative services,” he said. “Military police is all-encompassing. …It is very unpredictable at times, but predictable in the passion and the enjoyment that you get out of fulfilling what you wanted to do.”
Jones talked about the satisfaction of working in Army human resources.
“The human resources specialist is the most vital position in the Army. We are responsible for the professional development of everyone’s careers — soldiers, noncommissioned officers, officers. We help develop them through career progression,” Jones said. “If you’re needing promotions, we’re the ones that help you with that. You got an award, you did something great, that’s us, too. You’re getting recommended for your next evaluation, come on down to the human resources specialist. You want to spend time with your family, your friends, we’ll process your leave form.
“As a human resources specialist, my biggest joy is to help people and to help them develop throughout their careers,” she said. “The skills that I’m receiving now is equivalent if not more than what I would receive in the civilian world. …Every company, every corporation has a human resources department. It can’t run without it. They are responsible for hiring people and just maintaining the daily operations of the company, and the military has more than prepared me for those communication skills and just to contribute back to the community that I’m now protecting.”
Panelists also discussed the opportunity to pursue higher education while serving.
Fandre said he completed his undergraduate degree, medical school, residency and three master’s degrees, 14 years total, while serving, and the Army paid for all of it.
“I love what I do. I get the opportunity to serve twice each day — our country and also those that take care of our country — and I’m passionate about it,” Fandre said. “Having the privilege to take care of a patient …there is nothing like that. But what is really awesome is doing it in the military you get to talk to people and take care of people like you’re seeing here right now.
“The opportunities are what really makes it different,” he said. “We get to fly around in helicopters, you get to fly around in airplanes, you get to deploy if that is indeed what the mission may be. … There are about 90 different medical specialties you can go into, and it’s across the breadth of everything in medicine.”
There are also opportunities for those who aren’t interested in pursuing higher education in college. As of Oct. 1, 2019, the Army began a self-directed credentialing program to introduce soldiers to more than 1,600 different credentialing options that help translate their military training and skills into civilian qualifications.
“We’ve had America’s sons and daughters joining the Army post 9-11 knowing what’s in front of them,” Rambo said. “I think this is a great way to give them the opportunity to serve their country but also to step out and be ready to be contributing members of society.”
Along with the large range of opportunities available to Army soldiers professionally, Warren said the inherent leadership of the Army is something individuals don’t learn in the civilian business world.
“It’s not something most business organizations do a great job of teaching, so you either learn it before you start the job or outside the job, but not necessarily in the job,” Warren said. “What I’ve seen from people who have been in the Army is it is just part of what they do. …The most important thing (the Army focuses on) is the soldier and the investment that the Army makes in the individual soldier at every level and how that person can develop.”
For more information about the campaign, visit goarmy.com/hiringdays.
The full moderator-led panel discussion is available on the Kansas City Recruiting Battalion Facebook page.