NEWS | April 30, 2020

A message of hope: Utahns volunteer for military service during pandemic

By Spc. Felicia Olmos and Sgt. Nathaniel Free Public Affairs Office

Utahns continue to volunteer for military service despite increased restrictions on recruiting and in-processing during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to recruiting officials in the Utah National Guard, April 29, 2020.

“In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, as we learned about how rapidly it spread and it's devastating effects, we in recruiting had to quickly adjust to the new environment,” said Lt. Col. Michael Kjar, commander of Recruiting and Retention Battalion, Utah National Guard. “It has been inspiring to see our recruiters and support staff quickly adapt to health and safety guidelines in order to help Utah's finest citizens answer the call to serve their nation and community by enlisting in the Utah National Guard.”

And with each enlistment, there’s a message of hope for the rest of Utah.

“The military has always been a thought in the back of my mind,” said Pvt. 1st Class Hope Torok, from St. George.
On April 16, 2020, Torok took the final step to join the Utah National Guard, during one of the worst weeks of coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S.

“I’ve worked in retail pretty much all of my working years,” Torok explained. “During Covid-19 in March, I was furloughed from my work since it is considered a non-essential job.”

As a furloughed, non-essential worker, Torok said she had more time to think about what she wanted in life. She decided to sit down with a recruiter.

“I was surprised to see things get as serious as they did, and as a worker in retail, I felt pretty useless,” she said. “It’s given me a different perspective on my life and meaning to my work. It was definitely the initial push to looking at the military as a new career change.”

Torok enlisted with the military occupational specialty of combat medic, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 222nd Field Artillery, 65th Field Artillery Brigade, Utah National Guard.
“I ended up enlisting because the Army National Guard gives me a sense of purpose in my life,” Torok said. “Becoming a Soldier makes me feel extremely proud and happy to be able to serve and protect my country.”

She’s not the only one to join during the pandemic.

“This whole situation makes things a little tough finding a civilian job or keeping a job for that matter,” said Pvt. Mason Schlick, from Midvale, who enlisted in the Utah National Guard April 21, 2020, with the MOS of wheeled vehicle mechanic, assigned to the 214th Forward Support Company, 204th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.

“My main focus on joining was for my family,” Schlick said. “I’ve always had a passion for joining the Armed Forces.”

For Pvt. Porter Roth, from Tooele, enlisting in the Utah National Guard fulfilled a dream.

“It’s been a dream since childhood to serve and I wanted to follow in my great grandfather's footsteps,” Roth said.

He enlisted on April 7, 2020, with the MOS of interior electrician, assigned to the 116th Vertical Engineering Co., 204th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.

“With the world in a panic, it’s important for us to stay calm and continue doing whatever we can to support the people around us,” Roth said.

Volunteering to serve in the Utah National Guard during the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t easy, but it hasn’t stopped Pvt. Derek Workman, from Richfield. He enlisted April 21, 2020, with the MOS of cannon crewmember, assigned to
2nd Battalion, 222nd Field Artillery, 65th Field Artillery Brigade.

“The pandemic has had a really big impact on my life because it has affected my work life, school life, and military life,” Workman said. “I was planning on going to [Basic Combat Training] this summer but because of this whole situation, it has been postponed until January 2021.”

As of April 30, 2020, before a soldier can process through the military entrance processing station (MEPS), in Salt Lake City, he or she is asked a series of health questions 15 days ahead of their processing date, according to Kjar. They are asked to self-isolate for two weeks. Regular checkups are conducted 72, 48, and 24 hours before their visit. Their temperature is taken twice prior to processing and there is a limited number of soldiers allowed in MEPS at any given time. The new soldier's oath of enlistment is streamed live via video teleconference to family and friends.

“I joined because it has always been a part of my life through my dad,” Workman said. “And now I just feel like it’s my turn to give back.”

His dad, Lt. Col. Cody Workman, is the military liaison officer assigned to the 4th Infantry Division, Main Command Post Operational Detachment. He’s been a member of the Utah National Guard for 26 years.

“It is awesome to think my son is now part of the family business,” Lt. Col. Workman joked.

On a more serious note, he added, “Swearing him in was one of the highlights of my career. I am very proud of his decision to take the Oath and put on the uniform we all love.”

According to Lt. Col. Workman, his son never had an interest in the military before.

“He went to Argentina for two years on a mission and returned with a deeper love for our country,” Workman explained. “He is a good kid and will make a great Soldier. I also know the organization will help to make him a better person in every respect.”

For more information about joining the Utah National Guard, visit ut.ng.mil.

“We have taken great care in ensuring the health and safety of our recruiters, the support staff, and our new soldiers,” Kjar said. “It amazes me how we've been able to sustain our recruiting efforts in these trying times.”

 

 

 

Your Career Starts Here

U.S. Army Cpl. Spencer Fayles with Utah’s 144th Area Support Medical Company, receives a certificate of participation during the Region VII Best Warrior Competition award ceremony on the island of Guam, May 26, 2022. This annual competition featured the best noncommissioned officer and Soldier from eight different states and territories including Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. Testing competitors’ skills and knowledge and pushing them to their limits, the competition graded each participant in key areas such as basic Soldier skills, marksmanship under stress, land-navigation, and physical fitness. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jordan Hack)
Two Utah Soldiers awaken "Warrior Spirit" at Region VII Best Warrior Competition
By Staff Sgt. Jordan Hack | June 4, 2022
A Soldier’s transformation into a warrior is difficult to describe. Hand-picked by leadership, proving themselves with every drop of sweat, every sore muscle, and every labored breath; Soldiers who compete naturally don the...

Brig. Gen. Frank Gräfe, the defense attaché from the Federation of Germany to the United States, (left) and Brig. Gen. Daniel D. Boyack, Commander of the Utah Air National Guard & Assistant Adjutant General-Air, (right) pose using the iconic “thumbs up” that Gail Halvorsen was known for on May 20th at the Provo City Cemetary. The Utah Air National Guard was in attendance to show support and honor the heroic efforts of Gail Halvorsen. (Utah Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt Nicholas Perez)
Honoring a war hero who delivered hope
By Staff Sgt. Nicholas Perez | May 31, 2022
Ret. U.S. Air Force Col. Gail Halvorsen, known as the “Candy Bomber”, was honored by top leadership from the Utah Air National Guard, Utah National Guard, and Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany with the laying of two...

The Utah National Guard FEMA Region VIII Homeland Response Force held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Collapsed Structure Venue Site which included a demonstration and static display of capabilities May 10, 2022 at Camp Williams, Utah. The CSVS is one of only three military owned Urban Search and Rescue training venues west of the Rocky Mountains. This CSVS will allow both military search and extract and civilian search and rescue teams the opportunity to train together and build those necessary partnerships needed in an “all hazards” response. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Sgt. John Etheridge)
Camp Williams adds a Premiere Search and Extraction Training Site to Benefit the Homeland Response Force, State, Region, and Nation.
By Lt. Col. Robert Ramage Warden | May 11, 2022
The Utah National Guard has a new training site for the Region VIII Homeland Response Force’s search and extraction team, as well as partner civilian urban search and rescue teams. Lt. Col. Erick R. Wiedmeier, commander of...

Members of the Combined Veterans Honor Guard joined members from the Utah National Guard Honor Guard in conducting military funeral honors for the remains of Cpl. David Milano April 29, 2022 in Ogden, Utah. Milano went missing in action Dec. 2, 1950, during the Korean War. After 71 years, his remains have been repatriated to the United States and have been laid to rest on U.S. soil. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Sgt. John Etheridge)
A Family's Faith: Chosin Soldier Comes Home
By Staff Sgt. Jordan Hack | May 3, 2022
Often referred to as “the Forgotten War,” the Korean War’s significance tends to be overshadowed by World War II and the Vietnam War. Even in that light, it’s nothing short of a miracle that Korean War service members are...

Chief Warrant Officer4 Deena Haag
The Utah National Guard Celebrates Women’s History Month in March 2022
By (Courtesy article) | March 31, 2022
During the month of March, the Utah National Guard celebrates Women’s History and honors and acknowledges the struggles and achievements of American women throughout the history of the United States. Women have played a vital...

The 2-222nd Field Artillery Battalion, “Triple Deuce,” held a reunion for all current and former members of the unit March 19, 2022, at the Stanley A. Staheli Readiness Center in St. George, Utah. This event marks the fifth time in the last eight years that the group has rallied to reunite and reflect on their time spent in service to the nation, state, and community of Southern Utah.
2-222 Field Artillery Battalion “Triple Deuce” holds reunion for former and current members
By Maj. Emilio Suazo | March 19, 2022
The 2-222nd Field Artillery Battalion, “Triple Deuce,” held a reunion for all current and former members of the unit March 19, 2022, at the Stanley A. Staheli Readiness Center in St. George, Utah...

Brig. Gen. Tyler Smith receives his certificate of retirement from Maj. Gen. Michael Turley, adjutant general, Utah National Guard, at his retirement ceremony, March 14, 2022, at Camp Williams, Utah. Smith, whose most recent assignment was assistant adjutant general-Army, Utah National Guard, was joined by family, friends and community members to celebrate his 36-year career in the military. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Sgt. John Etheridge)
Brig. Gen. Tyler B. Smith, former assistant adjutant general-Army, retires after 35-years of service
By Staff Sgt. Ariel Solomon | March 16, 2022
Family, friends, co-workers and community members gathered to say farewell to Brig. Gen. Tyler Smith, the former assistant adjutant general-Army, Utah National Guard, at his retirement ceremony March 15, 2022, in the Lundell...

Maj. Gen Michael Turley, adjutant general, Utah National Guard, passes the organizational colors to Brig. Gen. Joseph Green during a change-of-command ceremony March 13, 2022 at Draper, Utah. During the change-of-command ceremony, Brig. Gen. Joseph Green assumed the role of assistant adjutant general-Army, Utah National Guard, from Brig. Gen. Tyler Smith. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Ariel J. Solomon)
Utah National Guard promotes and welcomes new assistant adjutant general-Army at change-of-command ceremony
By 1st Sgt. John Etheridge | March 14, 2022
The Utah National Guard welcomed its new assistant adjutant general-Army at a change-of-command ceremony March 13, 2022, at its headquarters building in Draper, Utah...

Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Brown passes the 97th Troop Command colors to Col. Tammy Manwaring during the change-of-command ceremony on Camp Williams, Utah, March 13, 2022. Manwaring will then pass the colors on to her successor, symbolically relinquishing her responsibility as the unit's commander. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Cpl. Alejandro Lucero)
97th Troop Command conducts change of responsibility
By Cpl. Alejandro Lucero | March 12, 2022
The 97th Troop Command, Utah Army National Guard, conducted a change-of-command ceremony at the Lundell Readiness Center on Camp Williams, Utah, March 13, 2022. During the ceremony, Col. Tammy Manwaring relinquished command...

Sgt. First Class Robert Conder, a soldier with the 141st Military Intelligence Battalion, Utah National Guard, and members of Boy Scout troop take a break from collecting and loading donations for the Scouting for Food drive in Draper, Utah, Feb. 12, 2022. The Utah National Guard is committed to the Scouting for Food drive as it unites Utahns from multiple counties in the fight against hunger. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Alejandro Lucero)
Utah National Guard Assists Boy Scouts to Feed Utah Families
By Sgt. James Bunn | Feb. 17, 2022
Soldiers from the Utah National Guard partnered with Boy Scouts of America to collect food donations across Utah for Scouting for Food Day Feb. 12, 2022. This year approximately 75 Utah National Guard members helped deliver...