COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers joined Major General Matthew McFarlane, the commanding general on Fort Carson, and Command Sergeant Major Adam Nash for a fireside chat on Tuesday on the mountain post to discuss a new recruiting campaign for the Army.
Army National Hiring Days began last month and continues through June 14 here and across the country, providing major incentives to young men and women who would like to make the military their career choice.
The chat was also about reinforcing the decades-long relationship between Fort Carson and the city of Colorado Springs, and how they interact as a community within a community. One of the key points made today was that Colorado Springs is the number one city in the entire country when it comes to retaining military personnel after they retire.
Mayor Suthers told me, "people feel comfortable here in the military, I cant tell you how many military folks, come up to me as mayor of Colorado Springs and said I've never felt so comfortable in a community as in Colorado Springs."
But today's gathering before reporters and photographers was about detailing the tremendous incentives the Army is offering right now to try and build its recruitment base. For example, depending on which career path you choose, and there are many options, a recruit can earn a bonus of between $9,000 and $40,000, and up to $65,000 in bonuses to pay off student loan debt.
More than the financial incentives, they said the opportunity to serve your country is a tremendous incentive in itself, it's the "ultimate team sport", I was told, and it's so much more than firing weapons and jumping out of helicopters.
In fact, General McFarlane said that just on Fort Carson alone, a recruit can choose, for example, from the Space Brigade, Infantry Division, Explosive/Ordnance investigation, or a career in the medical field.
General McFarlane said that recruiting goals were met during a very difficult pandemic year last year, but the stability of the military service resulted in a higher retention rate across the Army. And as the push continues to grow the force, General McFarlane addressed a growing concern in the military and our society as a whole - inclusion and equity as it relates to what one might consider a non-conventional military man or woman.
"The Army's focus is on people first, it's just that building these diverse backgrounds no matter what your zip code, no matter your socio-economic background, we're interested in you coming to serve because we believe that diversity is a strength of our Army," said Gen. McFarlane.
And once you sign up, and serve at least one tour of duty and decide to move back into the private sector, the Army also provides what's called a "Career Skills Program". It is a partnership between the Mountain Post and the Colorado Springs community, that directs men and women to local businesses, educational institutions, and other organizations to develop a skill set or expand on what they've already learned in the Army, to ensure long term employment.
"To train and build skills that a soldier's ability to enter either their occupation or join their business or other businesses wherever the soldier wants to go when they're done with their service," General McFarlane told me.
If you are interested in joining or researching the opportunity available, you can go to the Army website, goarmy.com.