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Minnesota National Guard
National Guard soldiers return to support network aimed at helping them find jobs

Rosemount, Minn — More than 500 National Guard soldiers woke up at home yesterday morning for the first time in more than a year In the next few months, they’ll reclaim their civilian lives

But for many, finding a job will be an important challenge National Guard officials say about 20 percent of the nearly 3,000 Red Bulls brigade soldiers returning home from Kuwait will not have a job waiting for them

Maj Gen David Elicerio, the commander of Minnesota’s 34th “Red Bull” Infantry Division, knows that challenge Three years ago, he struggled to find civilian work after serving in Iraq

“I know well the frustrations that our soldiers have, coming back to Minnesota and trying to match the skill sets of a commander in Iraq in charge of 15,000 soldiers over nine provinces in Iraq to the job market in Minnesota,” Elicerio said

To speed the transition back to working life for returning soldiers, National Guard officials and Minnesota businesses are helping them maneuver through the employment process

In the coming months, the Guard will work with private employers and officials from the Department of Employment and Economic Development to host job fairs around the state and at regional workforce centers throughout the summer

Elicerio recently told a group of business representatives what happened when he returned from his last tour of duty overseas In 2009, he contacted 3M officials about job opportunities and received a less-than-enthusiastic reception

“Hey, I’m a chemical engineer with over 25 years’ experience in the health care industry and I know you’re big in health care products,” he recalled telling them “They said, ‘You’re right We’ve got an entry-level engineering job for you, part time, in our facility in Kansas City’ I said ‘Eh, that’s not going to work so well, either’”

Elicerio told the story at one of several events the Guard is hosting to connect businesses with unemployed soldiers returning from Kuwait this year

The Guard is teaching employers some Army basics — like the difference between a division and a squad and what job descriptions and ranks mean Elicerio said soldiers often overlook the importance of describing their military experience to civilians

The unemployment rate for Minnesota veterans is more than three times the state’s civilian unemployment rate of 57 percent Last month, representatives from several major companies, including Target, Best Buy and US Bank, helped soldiers spruce up their resumes and prepare for job interviews while they were still in Kuwait

Now other companies are targeting recruitment efforts on returning soldiers

Military experience is often lost in translation, said Ronda Wescott, president of public sector services for Travelers Insurance The St Paul-based company employs 1,200 veterans across the country

“In corporate America, we deal with job descriptions,” she said after speaking to attendees at the National Guard employers event “So if you had a job description in the military … it’s probably full of Army lingo Just take that job description and translate it into what it means generally, to a lay person, and that would work well”

Wescott said Travelers’ recruiters are learning to translate military experience into possible jobs at the company But she said soldiers need to do a better job being open with potential employers about what they did during their time in the military

“There’s been a hesitancy to talk too much about things that have happened in Iraq, for example, or wherever it is,” Wescott said “But I think there’s a way to do that without giving anything away”

The push to help returning soldiers has also made its way to the state Capitol Last month, Gov Mark Dayton signed a bill that allows employers to set a hiring preference for veterans

State Sen Ted Daley, R-Eagan, who sponsored his chamber’s bill, said employers have an opportunity to help veterans find jobs

“The great thing is, it’s not a mandate,” Daley said “It doesn’t force any company to do this It’s permissive language which allows them to do it and not to be worried or troubled by any lawsuits that they could face for preferring to hire veterans”
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Litchfield and Local Veteran Honor Gen. John Vessey at Armory Open House

Posted: 2017-03-10  08:50 AM
Vessey Bust LITCHFIELD, Minn. -Bruce Cottington, a Navy veteran of WWII and Korea, donated a bronze bust of Gen. John W. Vessey, Jr. to the Litchfield National Guard unit during the armory's public open house event March 4. Cottington, a Litchfield resident, commands the Minnesota Chapter of the Veterans of Underage Military Service. VUMS members enlisted in the military prior to the minimum age requirement in order to serve their country during WWII. Cottington received the bust from Vessey, a fellow VUMS member. Both enlisted in the military at the age of 16.

The highlight of the 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion open house was the unveiling of the sculpture. The unit was very supportive when Cottington proposed donating the sculpture. The Litchfield community has always been very supportive of the National Guard over the years, so the open house was a chance to say 'thanks' to their neighbors. "This was a great opportunity to honor Bruce and to honor Gen. Vessey," said B Co., 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion Commander, Capt. Seth Goreham. Bravo Company also has a tight relationship with the local American Legion and VFW. Many Litchfield citizens are former members of Bravo Company, or the unit's predecessors A Co, 682nd Engineer Battalion, and the 849th Mobility Augmentation Company.



Camp Ripley welcomes new command sergeant major

Posted: 2017-03-08  03:29 PM
CSM Erickson CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The garrison command team of Camp Ripley, family, friends and colleagues from the Minnesota National Guard attended a Change of Responsibility ceremony between Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Worden and Command Sgt. Maj. Matt Erickson, March 5, 2017, at Camp Ripley.

The ceremony was an official "passing of the sword" from one senior noncommissioned officer to the next and assumption of the duties and responsibilities that go along with the position of Garrison Command Sergeant Major.

As with many military ceremonies those in attendance welcomed Erickson as a new member of the team and bid farewell, recognized and thanked Worden for his service.



Norwegian youth recognized for response to vehicle accident

Posted: 2017-02-22  09:59 AM
NOREX youth CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Norwegian youths Stian Dahl and Haavard Engen received the Camp Ripley Garrison Commander's coin from Col. Scott St Sauver February 19, 2017, in recognition for reacting to a vehicle accident they witnessed earlier that week.

As part of the U.S.-Norway Reciprocal Troop Exchange, Norwegian youths ages 19-20 are matched up with a host family in order to spend an evening experiencing American culture. In most situations the "Buddy Weekend" as it's called allows the youths to go shopping, attend events and have home-cook meals along with their host family.

"We are able to match up youth members with families all over the state," said Staff Sgt. Tim Krouth, Buddy Weekend organizer. "Lots of the families have hosted one or two of our Norwegian friends for several years in a row now, it a great way to relax and see some of Minnesota."



To the top of the mountain and back, NOREX 44 members embrace the Norwegian winter

Posted: 2017-02-21  01:25 PM
NOREX FTX HALTDALEN, Norway - After two days at a base camp near Haltdalen, Norway, Minnesota National Guardsmen participating in the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange were ready for the most challenging aspect of their four-day field training exercise - a ski march up the mountain.

It was Day three of the FTX, meaning members of the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange had slowly adjusted to surviving and thriving while living in a winter environment and also honed their skills on cross country skills well enough to begin a climb that would take nearly three hours.

"Our goal was to get you to know how to use the winter, see how the Norwegians use the winter, and how we survive the winter so we can conduct combat," said Vidar Aune, one of several members of Home Guard 12 guiding the Minnesota National Guard Soldiers and Airmen during their training here. "By getting the experience living outside in the snow, you manage to survive it and handle it quite well."



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