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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Music fans at the 2014 Country Jam had the opportunity to meet U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit members and get a glimpse into Army life June 19-22.
"People usually get their perspective (about the Army) from a local Army recruiter," said Sgt. 1st Class Chris Ortega, accessions liaison. "The marksmanship unit had the opportunity to share what they do and their experience, with the public, which gave the audience and the American people a (different) perspective of what opportunities the Army provides."
The event not only broadened the understanding of Army life for many of the nearly 100,000 people who attended the four-day event, it also exposed the USAMU Soldiers to outreach engagements beyond competitive shooting.
"Once you engaged them, and were able to tell your story about not only your Army life but being able to compete in the Olympics and represent your country, it just opened up tons of doors," said Staff Sgt. Josh Richmond, USAMU Shotgun Team member and 2012 Olympian. "I would say 95 percent of the people there had no idea about our unit or that we have these special jobs inside the Army."
He said the people he talked with were from all walks of life, so it was interesting to see their expressions when they explained what the unit does.
"It made for some good conversation, and it allowed the recruiters to have somewhat of an open door to be able to engage them as well," Richmond said.
Ortega said he believes the diversity at the concert was extremely positive and allowed them to reach more people beyond the footprint of Grand Junction.
"The ability to market ourselves and the Army in a positive way at a national event was great for our unit and the Army as a whole," he said.
The USAMU worked alongside the Denver Recruiting Battalion, the Grand Junction Recruiting Center, and the Army's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math vehicle, to create a dialog with concert goers. The trailer puts people in a scenario where they can put their knowledge and problem-solving abilities to the test.
Ortega said the USAMU is a great tool because of people's interest in marksmanship.
"We would really love to have some more demonstrations and clinics at local gun ranges or gun clubs and bring out (centers of influence) and VIPS from the local community," Ortega said. "There is nothing more exhilarating after seeing one of our demonstrations and then being able to get behind the gun and shoot with one of our team members."