Fully 800 Hungarians have applied so far for the army reserve scheme, defence Minister Tibor Benko said at an award ceremony of the Armed Forces of Hungary on Thursday.
The first 450 volunteer reservists have already started their training, the minister added. The scheme targets people who are out of work because of the coronavirus crisis as part of the government’s plan on protecting the economy. The minister earlier said he expected 3,000 people to apply for the scheme.
Hungary’s military has proven that it is able and prepared to hold its own even in a struggle against “an invisible enemy like coronavirus”, the defence minister said. The army and the social organisations working with the military aided and protected the public, Benkő said, adding that without them, Hungary’s defence against the virus would not have been as successful as it had been. The soldiers also had to face new challenges like fulfilling their role as hospital commanders, setting up military task forces to oversee strategic companies, disinfecting public institutions or operating hospital entry security, he added. Benkő said the military’s role in the country’s epidemic response efforts was also important “because society should feel that the soldiers serve the Hungarian people”. He also said the armed forces would also contribute to the implementation of the government’s economy protection action plan by training 3,000 volunteer reservists. The ceremony was held to recognise soldiers who were to be awarded on the occasion of the March 15 national holiday and National Defence Day observed on May 21, until those award ceremonies were cancelled due to the epidemic.