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Minnesota National Guard
Coming Home: Creating Success for our Veterans

Minnesota's National Guard returns



Now that they’re home, the soldiers and their families are defining a new “normal” after deployment Some focus on reconnecting with their spouses and children, while others take a little time to unwind before getting back into the swing of things at work or college Nineteen percent of this brigade has a huge challenge in front of them—unemployment But many are keeping their attitude positive, as they are armed for the fight

Late last spring, soldiers were asked about their plans for after deployment Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) liaison Jim Mitchell of Montevideo, Minn, started noticing a high trend of soldiers from every corner of the state answering that they would likely come home unemployed

“The informational interview ESGR conducted with the soldiers is part of the Solider Readiness Processing that each activated soldier goes through before they deploy,” said Mitchell “This one taught us a lot” Mitchell’s concern about statewide post-deployment unemployment spurred Minnesota National Guard leadership into action

As the soldiers departed in May and June 2011, the Interagency Employment Work Group (IEWG) was established to create successful paths for veterans to find employment They planned to use the 1st Brigade Combat Team as a test group for the new process Facilitated by the Minnesota National Guard’s Deployment Cycle Support Team, the IEWG quickly gained partners from more than 20 state, federal and local entities including: Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU), Minnesota Department of Revenue, Department of Defense Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, County Veteran Service Advisors, Yellow Ribbon Networks, and all branches of service and ESGR One of the team’s first priorities was to find clear paths to employment for veterans With multiple federal, state and private employment search tools, websites and campaigns for employment, simply getting started was a daunting task for any recently returned, unemployed soldier to face alone What they needed most was an ally “The Minnesota WorkForce Center is the state’s primary agency for workforce and economic development which brings job seekers and employers together,” said Jim Finley, director of The Veterans Employment Service for DEED’s Minnesota WorkForce Centers

Not only did this existing state program have a veteran preference policy and nearly 50 offices established throughout the state, many of the Minnesota WorkForce Centers also had a veteran employment representative on staff “Veteran employment representatives are veterans themselves who have gone through their own transition from military to civilian [life] and are directly connected to the resources in the workforce centers,” said Finley These veteran employment representatives provide one-on-one skill assessment, administer career guidance, coordinate resume-writing assistance, translate military skills to civilian skills, refer job-seekers to veteran-friendly employers and host monthly follow-up and networking groups Most importantly, they serve as the professional ally that soldiers need to navigate the employment process The IEWG identified another great barrier veterans encounter when seeking employment— defining a career plan they want to pursue MnSCU brought the IEWG up to speed through the MyMilitary GPS LifePlan “Goals + Plans equals Success is an online tool to help individuals identify career and personal goals,” said Gina Sobania, the military education director for MnSCU “Minnesota State Colleges and Universities has modified this tool and created ‘MyMilitary GPS LifePlan’ specifically to help veterans and service members address this issue” Perfect

Step One: Visit a WorkForce Center

Step Two: Develop a plan

This leads to the final step: Post your resume online and start networking

DEED had the right job bank Forty percent of employers who have posted a job opening on wwwMinnesotaWorksnet have found hires through it Additionally, DEED activated a new button to allow companies to list open positions as “veteran friendly” While the IEWG finalized a three-step employment assistance process they could adopt and promote, another movement was underway DEED and the Minnesota National Guard conducted an official unemployment survey of the 1BCT while they were stationed in Kuwait As of January 2012, survey results confirmed that nearly 19 percent of these soldiers would be coming home to unemployment

Under the direction of Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, the adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard, the IEWG planned to kick-off their three-step process before the soldiers returned home by sending an Employment Resource Team to Kuwait to prepare the troops for employment In March 2012, the Employment Resource Team, consisting of the following eleven individuals, traveled to Kuwait:
» "¨Jim Finley, director of Veterans Employment Service for DEED’s Minnesota WorkForce Centers
» "¨Ron Kellen, senior veteran employment representative for veterans employment programs for DEED’s Minnesota WorkForce Centers
» "¨Grant Heino, senior veteran employment representative for veterans employment programs for DEED’s Minnesota WorkForce Centers
» "¨Gina Sobania, military education director for MnSCU
» "¨Tony Tengwall, Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs - Higher Education Veterans Program
» "¨Bruce Keifner, Best Buy Corporate human resource manager
» "¨Christopher Hill, US Bank Corporate human resource manager
» "¨Marvin Hamilton, group director of distribution for Target
» "¨Dick Daniels, St Paul Chamber of Commerce
» "¨Chaplain (Colonel) John Morris, Minnesota National Guard
» "¨Major Aaron Krenz, chief of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, Deployment Cycle Support Team, Minnesota National Guard

While in Kuwait, the Employment Resource Team saw 1,080 Minnesota National Guard soldiers from Minn, Wisc, Okla, Mo and Tenn over the course of five, 14-hour days They also worked with 12 Army Reserve soldiers

The soldiers had done their homework They started the three-step process before the Employment Resource Team arrived, allowing everyone to get the most out of their time “They need to work on their resumes, interview skills and selling themselves,” said Maj Aaron Krenz, chief of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, Deployment Cycle Support Team Krenz directed his operations team to adjust training to the 1BCT’s Yellow Ribbon Reintegration training in order to meet these needs The soldiers, in turn, appreciated the civilian business leaders who provided presentations on how to market oneself to employers, as well as one-on-one resume refinement and interview practice

The Commanders in Kuwait used the feedback from the Employment Resource Team to focus on areas to improve upon and used their citizen-soldier skills to develop a training plan to practicing interviewing, resulting in 400 mock interviews in one week Within three weeks of the Employment Resource Team visit, soldiers in Kuwait began to get hired; one unit alone reported 11 newly-employed soldiers

Throughout April, the soldiers returned home in waves of 100 to 300 at a time Their first stop was Camp Shelby for the Army’s mandatory week-long initial reintegration training The Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, Deployment Cycle Support Team facilitated a Welcome Home Center with support from DEED, MnSCU and County Veteran Service Offices to allow soldiers to continue their employment preparation and job search Their efforts yielded even more success stories

Upon their return—to the arms of their spouses, children, mothers, fathers and friends—soldiers were encouraged to take some time to simply enjoy being with their loved ones before reintegration and the search for a new normal

From late June through July, 1BCT soldiers will be coming together for one of six geographically-dispersed, 30-day Yellow Ribbon Reintegration events during which they and their families will attend classes on finding their new normal together Unemployed soldiers will resume the process of planning, networking and practicing interview skills This individualized employment training will continue during a 60-day reintegration event in August

Although IEWG and the 1BCT test group is still in process, it is not too early to call this effort a success Dozens of agencies are promoting the three-step process to help veterans find employment and help employers find veterans to employ

TO LEARN MORE For more details, visit wwwPositivelyMinnesotacom/veteran

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Month of the Military Child recognizes contributions of military kids

Posted: 2018-04-07  01:54 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The month of April is designated as the Month of the Military Child to recognize the contributions and sacrifices military children make so their family members can serve. An estimated 15,000 children in Minnesota have been affected by the deployment of a parent.

"Military children bear a lot while their family members serve," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "It is up to us to support these resilient kids and help to lessen their burden."

An event to honor military kids in Minnesota will take place April 13, 2018, at the Mall of America rotunda from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Activities will include appearances by the Teddy Bear Band and meet and greets with Nickelodeon characters.

Forging a path to career success

Posted: 2018-03-16  08:45 AM
Col. Angela Steward-Randle ST. PAUL, Minn. - Col. Angela Steward-Randle grew up in a military family - her father served in the Army on active duty - but it was a chance encounter with a friend at college that led her to want to make the military a career.

"My story is no different than many others," Steward-Randle, the Director of Human Resources, Manpower and Personnel for the Minnesota National Guard said. "I was in college and looking for financial resources to help pay for it."

Her college friend suggested they attend a summer training with the Reserve Officer Training Corps that had no obligation and could earn them some money. The friend never ended up going, but Steward-Randle did. After earning recognition as the top honor graduate and receiving an offer of a scholarship, she was hooked.

Minnesota Guardsman Receives Award for Combating Drugs in his Community

Posted: 2018-03-09  03:13 PM
Counterdrug WOODBURY, Minn. - Staff Sgt. Benjamin Kroll, an analyst with the Minnesota National Guard's Counterdrug Task Force who is assigned to work with the Hennepin County Sherriff's Office was recognized for his achievements as the Analyst of the Year during the 2018 Minnesota Association of Crime and Intelligence Analysts Training Symposium in Woodbury, Minnesota, March 7, 2018.

Through a partnership with Minnesota law enforcement agencies throughout the state, the Minnesota National Guard Counterdrug Task Force (MNCDTF) supports the anti-drug initiatives to counter all primary drug threats and vulnerabilities through the effective application of available assets, said Maj. Jon Dotterer, Counterdrug Coordinator for the State of Minnesota. The goal for the program is to support federal, state, tribal, and local agencies in the detection, disruption, interdiction, and curtailment of illicit drugs.

Kroll is one of sixteen service members on the Counterdrug Task Force that provides this force-multiplying service to our communities against illicit drug-use. With the information that law enforcement provide through their patrols and daily operations, Kroll and his colleagues across the state assist by putting together a figurative picture with all of the gathered information which aids in identifying how to move forward with legal action to deter or prevent the sale or use of illegal narcotic drugs.

Women Opened Doors in Minnesota National Guard

Posted: 2018-03-08  09:05 AM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - "The battlefront is no place for women to be," said Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Kurtzweg, 125th Field Artillery, in an article published in 1976. "There are certain jobs girls say they can do, but they just can't do ... the battlefront is no place for women to be. Other countries in the world use women in combat, but the U.S. has not come around to that way of thinking." Kathy Berg, a New Ulm reporter summarized at the time. "So women in the New Ulm unit take care of personnel files and pay records and leave the fighting to the men."

The Minnesota National Guard has "come around to that way of thinking" since those early days of gender integration. In the last 44 years women have made momentous strides toward inclusion and acceptance. Their accomplishments are testimony to their fortitude and the progressive development of the Minnesota National Guard.

When an accomplished female Soldier is credited with breaking barriers she will often pass that honor to the women that preceded her. Brig. Gen. Johanna Clyborne is such a leader. She acknowledges that she is one of the first females in the Minnesota National Guard who has held key leadership roles, however she sees it differently. "I feel responsible for all women in uniform," said Clyborne. "Women before me opened the door, now I've cleared the room. It's up to the women behind me to hold the room."

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