ALBANY, N.Y. –
Famed novelist Jack London once said: “You can’t wait for inspiration; you have to go after it with a club,” and that’s exactly what one Soldier in the Burlington Recruiting Company is doing to recruit youth into the Army during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The “club” is online gaming, and it’s proving to be an inspiration, indeed.
“I thought a long time about how to get youth involved and interested in the Army,” said Sgt. Mason Jones, a recruiter in the Barre, Vermont Recruiting Station. “It was an idea I had in the back of my mind for quite a while, and I finally pulled the trigger and made it happen.”
Jones decided to get a few future Soldiers involved to join him on his bi-weekly gaming tournaments. He said having them on was key to drawing in more gaming competitors, because they’re an excellent way to promote what it’s like to become a Soldier.
“The Future Soldiers who join me online to play Call of Duty War Zone, Fortnite and APEX Legends are essentially verifying everything I typically tell potential recruits,” he said. “There’s nothing better than hearing it straight from someone who’s been through it already.”
His desire to capture leads and potential Future Soldiers for the Army is so strong, Jones even invested him own money into purchasing an upgrade for his personal computer, so he can live-stream using Facebook as his social media platform.
“Whatever it takes,” he said.
The obvious draw for many in the 17-24-year-old recruiting demographic is the gaming itself, but Jones said it’s pretty amazing how many questions he gets during sessions. It’s a good indicator of the level of interest in the possibility of joining the Army team.
“People really want to know about jobs in the Army and what they’re like,” Jones said, “and I’ve even gotten questions from some people about jobs I’m really not all that knowledgeable about. They challenge me to do research to find out more for them about some of the Army’s military occupational specialties, so it’s a learning thing for all of us.”
When his computer upgrade arrives, he plans to not only live-stream, but Jones says he wants to start hosting online competitions three to four times weekly.
“I’m going to reach out to some of my fellow recruiters to see if they’ll get their future Soldiers involved as well,” he said. “That way, we’ll increase the number of subject matter experts taking part in the gaming competitions. You never know if one of those gamers will eventually decide that they want to join the Army.”