ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Army’s top recruiting officer has requested every person affiliated with the Army, including veterans, to be an active recruiter next week, as part of a three-day virtual hiring event that aims to put 10,000 more recruits in boots.The Army National Hiring Days, which kick off Tuesday, is an all-Army outreach effort to tap into recruiting pools across the country using virtual engagements.“It’s a big deal,” said Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, commander of U.S. Army Recruiting Command. “It’s a great opportunity and we’re really excited. The Army has never done this before.”After being ahead by more than 2,200 contracts in mid-March compared to the previous year, the command was forced to temporarily reduce the use of its brick-and-mortar recruiting stations and go entirely virtual due to COVID-19.“We have to put force protection above mission,” Muth said Tuesday in a discussion for the Association of the U.S. Army’s Noon Report series. “We have to make sure our recruiters and their families know that we care.”Before the pandemic, the command had actually spent about 20 months trying to digitize efforts in reaching Generation Z youth. Building on previous work, recruiters were still able to conduct 50% to 60% of their normal production until stations reopened in late May, he said.Now with about 4,000 contracts behind its goal for this time of year, the command has looked for other innovative ways to garner interest in the Army.Just before the Army birthday on June 14, recruiters held Operation 245, a smaller two-day virtual hiring event that had about 10,000 people commit to speaking with a recruiter. Muth expects that number to eventually result in up to 1,000 contracts.