By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS)– More than 40 million Americans became unemployed during the pandemic, but many don’t realize their skills could be used to serve our country. The U.S. Army is having its first virtual job fair, Army National Hiring Days, to introduce people to the 150 career fields the Army has to offer.

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“As we’ve all adapted to COVID, the Army’s learned a lot of lessons. We’ve adjusted our training as well as our recruiting to adapt to this environment,” said Major General Matt MacFarlane, Commanding General, 4th Infantry Division in Fort Carson, Colorado.

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Many brick-and-mortar Army recruitment offices have been closed for months, leaving recruitment numbers far below what they should be in June. The Army is hoping to recruit 10,000 new soldiers between June 30 and July 2 through its online hiring event.

“We’ve reduced our face-to-face interaction, but we’ve improved our virtual interactions and that’s what this effort is aimed at,” said MacFarlane. “We have all sorts of platforms that allow you to interact and have dialogue with other people, with similar backgrounds, to make an informed choice on if you want to serve, where and what type of service.”

Though recruitment is down, retention at Fort Carson is actually exceeding their goals. MacFarlane also attributes that to these uncertain times, along with the stability and educational opportunities Army careers provide.

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“People are realizing it’s good stable pay and a career that provides opportunities for continued education and certifications for life in the army and beyond,” said MacFarlane.

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MacFarlane was able to obtain three additional master’s degrees while serving in the Army – the largest scholarship provider in the nation.

“Not only does it pay for school up front, but it provides bonuses for new soldiers based on whatever they’re educational background is or what career field they may be interested in. It also provides up to $65,000 of college reimbursement,” MacFarlane added.

He says the Denver area is one of the country’s top STEAM markets, full of potential recruits who could feel at home in some of the Army’s many opportunities.

The Army’s been recruiting America’s best for the last 245 years, and MacFarlane says going virtual won’t change that. They’re adapting to the new normal, just like the country they serve.

“I think the culture of recruiting diverse people, from a diverse society, is what helps our army become the best and remain the best it has been,” said MacFarlane.

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(credit: Army)

People who are interested in giving back to our country, and looking to gain skills that will help them in the Army and beyond as a civilian should visit for more information. Recruiters are actively monitoring the website and potential recruits will be connected with them.

Tori Mason