SALT LAKE CITY — The widow of former North Ogden Mayor Maj. Brent Taylor is helping to lead the charge as the U.S. Army sets out to bolster its ranks with an ambitious initiative to bring on thousands of new soldiers in just a few days beginning next week.
Jennie Taylor, a Gold Star spouse whose husband was killed in 2018 while serving in Afghanistan, joined U.S. Army recruiters along the Wasatch Front Monday as they spoke about the inaugural “Army National Hiring Days” — a virtual hiring campaign to recruit 10,000 new soldiers from June 30 to July 2.
The Army is seeking full- and part-time soldiers across 150 different career fields ranging from traditional combat roles to support positions in logistics, engineering and technology, a news release stated.
Jennie Taylor has been a staunch, vocal supporter of the U.S. Army and the military in general since her husband’s death. Maj. Brent Taylor died at the hands of a member of the Afghan security forces who opened fire at a Kabul Military Training Center. He served in the Utah National Guard for 15 years, which included tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to his military service, Taylor was elected to North Ogden’s City Council before winning the office of mayor. He was also the father of seven children.
She said this new initiative is a way to reach out to young people who have talents and knowledge that can be of great use to the Army in the fight against enemies that are frequently using technology to wage war on and off the battlefield.
“The Army’s undergoing a transition as we enter more of an information age,” Taylor said, speaking during a video news conference on Monday. “Modern warfare doesn’t look like it used to look, and the modern warfare of the next 10 to 20 years really doesn’t look like it used to look.
“We’re not just looking for the kids who’ve got no other options, so let’s send you off to boot camp and hope that helps you out,” she said. “We’re looking for brave men and women who are willing to step up, bring their sweat, their finest mind and the finest ideas they’ve got.”
Taylor noted that men and women today who join the military have an opportunity to help shape the world in a way that can make things better for coming generations. She also added that as a Gold Star spouse, she knows firsthand about the potential sacrifice soldiers make when they put on the uniform.
“There are among us, people who believe in a cause greater than themselves,” Taylor said. “What we’re looking for are those who have a sense of sacrifice over self.”
The campaign is the first time the military has taken on such a heavy recruiting effort almost completely in the virtual realm, according to Salt Lake City Army Recruiting Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Raphael Vasquez. He said the prevalence of coronavirus has forced the military to develop innovative strategies to reach its target audience, which includes young people coming out of high school, graduating from college and those wanting to start their professional careers.
“When COVID-19 was a consideration for us, we decided to start teleworking and what we discovered is there’s a lot of folks that are inhabiting the virtual space that weren’t necessarily getting a message (otherwise),” he said.
Lt. Col. Kenneth Lutz, 6th Army Medical Recruiting Battalion Commander, said the Army is currently looking for doctors of all specialties.
“If there is somebody out there that’s willing to serve and has been to medical school or is interested in going to medical school and needs a scholarship or completed medical school and you are ready for your residency — we’ll take any one of those,” Lutz said. Skilled nurses, certified nurse anesthetists and dentists are also in high demand, he added.
Many positions include financial incentives and paid tuition for college, graduate school and medical school for those willing to serve a specified period of time, he said.
Lt. Col. Jeremy Bourque, University of Utah Army Reserve officer candidate training professor of military science, said students who enroll in ROTC can select their career paths.
“‘What do you want your path to look like in four years?’ If you want to be a pilot, I already know what that path looks like so I can put you on the aviation pilots (pathway) to get you to fly,” he explained. “If you want to be a cyber officer, which is our newest branch in 2016, then I know that you should probably major in these types of things, so I can help put you on that path.”