Constable: Drop and give him 20 pushups -- through your phone app
Leaders need to adapt to the conditions. For Lt. Shalom Klein, platoon leader of more than 50 women and men in the U.S. Army Reserve unit in Arlington Heights, that means conducting online "virtual battle assemblies" during the COVID-19 restrictions.
"We have to do our pushups and situps and running," Klein says. "We ask them to download an app on their phone and send us a screenshot of how far they've run."
The last in-person training Klein conducted was in February, across the street from Arlington Heights' Northwest Community Hospital, which had just begun treating some of the first COVID-19 patients in the suburbs.
"It was a good opportunity to see my soldiers," says Klein, 30, who notes that some of those reservists fly in for training from nearby states for the Army Reserve's one-weekend-a-month and two-weeks-a-year training regimen. Now, the platoon leader must make do with telephone conversations, cellphone apps and online meetings. He's also conducting virtual job fairs and keeping tabs on his one soldier who is hospitalized with COVID-19.
"We have to make sure we are ready for whatever our country needs us for," Klein says.
An entrepreneur, Klein has a history of making changes on the fly. Born to Moshe and Leah Klein in Vernon Hills, his given name is Scott and his childhood nickname was Scooter. But moving to Skokie and realizing he didn't want to be Scooter all his life, Klein went with his Hebrew name of Shalom, which means peace. Growing up in a Jewish family where volunteerism and community involvement were stressed, Klein was always active in charities and service organizations. He got his master's degree in management at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago and plans to complete his doctoral degree this year at the American College of Education online school, based in Indianapolis.
Klein served as project manager for Chabad.org in New York, and was vice president of the family-run Moshe Klein & Associates accounting business when he founded the not-for-profit Jewish B2B Networking organization, which serves business owners and jobseekers of all faiths. He has a podcast and hosts his weekly "Get Down to Business" radio show on AM 560. He and his wife, Eli, live in Skokie with their Goldendoodle, Buddy. Klein took his oath with the U.S. Army Reserve on Dec. 18, 2018.
"Ultimately, it's about service," says Klein, who didn't join the Army to pay for college, as did many of the young people under his command. "I've always believed everybody needs to serve their community in some capacity."
He started his basic training in February 2019 at Fort Benning, Georgia.
"I went through basic training with all the yelling," says Klein, who was the "old man" of his platoon at age 29. His advance training was at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
With his wife continuing her work as a special education vocational assistant from home, the couple cook lunch together every day and Klein is comfortable leading his platoon from home.
"It's amazing how worlds collided in positive ways. Everything I'm training to do has been gearing up for this moment," Klein says. "I am incredibly proud and honored to be a mentor to and lead my 50-plus soldiers. They are the most amazing young men and women."
He suspects his June training at Fort Lee in Virginia will be conducted online. His platoon's scheduled training in July at the Camp Ripley Training Center in Minnesota is still up in the air. But Klein's background in communication and online networking prepares him for training soldiers sheltering at home. Except when it comes to weaponry.
"That," Klein says. "We're not doing at home."