ALBANY, N.Y. –
Army recruiters are most successful when they strike a solid work/life balance. However, during this coronavirus crisis, that balance is even more essential and challenging when daddy’s home and the kids want to play.
“I love being with my family and having more time to be with my boys, but I still have a job to do,” said Staff Sgt. Andrew Menard, station commander assigned to the Southbridge, Massachusetts recruiting station. “It isn’t easy, though.”
During this time of social distancing, Menard and his counterparts face challenges working from home that are unique, indeed.
“The recruiting mission hasn’t stopped,” Menard said. “I’ve served my country for 11 years, done one tour in Afghanistan and one in Kuwait, and I can tell you now, we’re faced with a very different adversary this time,” he said. “At the same time, I’ve spent more time with my boys in the last week and a half than I have in a long time, and my boys love that I’m home.”
Menard’s day still starts early, despite not being at his recruiting station with his team. Once his boys, Conner, 3, and Tyler, 6, are up in the morning, he and his wife, Brigette, tag team to get them dressed and ready for the day.
“We have breakfast together and are still trying to stick to our regular routine,” he said. “Tyler seems to think I’m on vacation, but I have an office in the basement, so they’ll know dad’s working and shouldn’t be disturbed.”
But keeping a 3- and 6-year-old away when they just want to wrestle or get a hug from dad isn’t always easy.
“I’m a Soldier, but also a father, and being there for my boys is my job, too,” he said. “I’ll always make time to be with them, if even for a moment.”
While engaging his sons is second nature to Menard, engaging potential applicants when he can’t speak to them face-to-face or have them come to the office to discuss a career in the Army, is a whole different ballgame. Menard says he’s learned to be incredibly creative when it comes to recruiting virtually.
“Social media is one of the primary ways my recruiters and I are using to reach out to our eligible audience,” he said. “I’ve video-streamed on Facebook and gotten down to do push-ups to encourage young people to get into shape. I’ve also used specific messaging that targets jobs in the Army that are incredibly important to the force now and in the future, such as law enforcement and medicine.”
“Coronavirus has caused all of us to rethink the recruiting strategies we’re accustomed to, and we now have to think outside the box,” Menard said. “That can be challenging, but we are making it work.”
Menard says he definitely misses talking to potential recruits face-to-face, but he understands the importance of what he’s doing to keep USAREC’s recruiting mission on course and everyone safe.
“It speaks volumes to me that Army leaders chose to put their Soldiers, civilians and families first, keep them healthy, and have them work from home to continue recruiting operations in a responsible manner,” he said. “We can still do what we need to do to continue engaging young men and women to join the Army,” Menard said, adding, “even if it means little interruptions for a few moments during our work day to hug our kids.”