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History
Minnesota National Guard
For veterans, finding a job is new mission

Theresa Reese is an Army officer with two business degrees She had a full-time Army job for three years in various human resources roles and is now a lieutenant Despite a lot of hard work trying to find a job in the civilian world, she's had no luck for nearly a year -- not even an interview

"I honestly didn't think it would be that hard," said the 28-year-old from Minneapolis

Reese has served in the Minnesota Army National Guard for 11 years, but landing a new job has proved elusive since her full-time Army gig ended

She's still clocking a weekend a month and two weeks a year of service, but her real challenge is finding a full-time job to support her and her two children

Many veterans find themselves in Reese's situation As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, returning soldiers face the struggle of finding a job in a sluggish labor market As soldiers, they face even more daunting odds than their civilian peers looking for work

Today, there are 366,790 veterans in Minnesota Many are without a job

NEW OBSTACLE COURSE

For post-9/11-era vets in Minnesota, the annual unemployment rate was 117 percent in 2011, just about double the state average (this is the latest state-specific data available) More recent national data show that these veterans faced an unemployment rate of 10 percent in October, well above the national rate of 79 percent for that same month

Just before 2,700 Minnesota National Guard Red Bulls were deployed to Kuwait in May 2011, the state surveyed them and found 18 percent were jobless at the time they left

"That is well above average," said Rachel Vilsack, a project coordinator with the state's labor market information office

The obstacles veterans face in finding work are many Typically, if they've been in the military for a while, they lack a solid nonmilitary network They have trouble translating their war zone skills and their ranks and military titles to corporate-speak Employers, likewise, often have trouble understanding their accomplishments

"If I was not in the Guard, I think it would be easier," Reese said "Employers hire people, train them, and they invest a lot in putting you into a position Then they run the risk of a National Guard soldier being deployed They say, 'Maybe I won't mess with this and get into a sticky situation, and I don't want to waste time hiring a Guardsman' "

FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE

Publicly, employers say they want to hire veterans and support returning troops Yet when recruiters look at military resumes chock full of acronyms and military terminology, they're dumbfounded Jose Chavarria, 44, who lives in Fridley, retired after 24 years with the Marine Corps, working lastas an aviation maintenance chief in California When he tried to find a job outside the military, a friend who works in human resources looked at his resume She told Chavarria, a master gunnery sergeant (the highest enlisted rank): " 'It sounds impressive I have no idea what it means'

"If there was no one there to explain my resume to her, she said she'd put it at the bottom of the pile," he said

When officials from the Society for Human Resource Management polled 359 employers this year, about half of them said one of the biggest difficulties in hiring veterans is translating military skills to civilian job experience

Some employers are trying to address that

Ecolab's Tess Ketelsen says it's difficult for recruiters to understand soldiers' language, and vice versa To that end, Ecolab lists job qualifications in its job postings using general terms and comparable military language For instance, a job posting for a production supervisor requires one to two years of operations experience in a manufacturing plant or a completed military tour as a junior officer or supervisor

Sales rep job postings ask for a minimum of two years of work or military experience A logistics job requires a bachelor's degree in business operations, supply-chain or management logistics, transportation or engineering, or any bachelor's degree and a completed tour of duty with a logistics role "Our goal is to capture people and then evaluate, not to disqualify people," said Ketelsen, director of talent acquisition for the St Paul-based cleaning and water-treatment company

In order to increase its exposure to veteran job candidates, Ecolab has forged partnerships with recruiters that specialize in recruiting those with military experience and has partnered with military groups Company reps regularly attend veterans job fairs across the country This year, 6 percent of Ecolab's new hires have been veterans, up from 5 percent in 2011

'THE PERFECT TIME'

Erick Ajax, one of the owners of a metal forming company in Fridley, has plenty of experience hiring vets Of the 10 hires this year at the 50-employee company, EJ Ajax & Sons, most were veterans

One of his most recent hires was Vincent Montez, 45, of South St Paul, who had spent a good part of his career in the military For Montez, the hunt for a civilian job "was rough," he said

"A lot of the jobs I was applying for, they ask you for degrees Even though I put down military schools, I thought in the back of my mind, they want degrees, which I don't have, but I have tons of experience Sometimes, employers don't recognize what you bring to the job"

Among his many jobs, he built water-purification systems while deployed in Iraq in 2008 and 2009 When he came back, he held a series of temporary full-time jobs with the Army

Ajax noticed Montez's potential when he chatted with him at a veterans job fair in September

"He told me he liked to hire veterans because of their work ethic," Montez said of his new boss Ajax invited Montez to interview and was impressed with his high score on an occupational assessment and his strong mechanical ability, honed as a Black Hawk helicopter mechanic

Montez was hired just over a month ago Ajax is covering Montez's college tuition in a four-year apprenticeship program in precision metal forming that may lead to a journeyman's card and higher pay

"Right now is the absolutely perfect time to hire veterans," Ajax said, "because there are a lot of veterans coming back with 10, 15 and 20 years of experience who have had multiple rank promotions throughout their career"

EDUCATION CONNECTION

Ajax has formed partnerships and helped design precision metal training curriculum at Hennepin Technical and Anoka Technical colleges, and finds job candidates at the job fairs after the graduations

Chavarria was one of them Chavarria had enrolled in a precision sheet metal class at Anoka Tech after finding it difficult to sell himself and his military accomplishments to employers

When he retired from the Marines and came to Minnesota, finding a job was next to impossible

"For me, the hardest thing was selling myself," he said "I find that is a common issue with all veterans and me personally"

In the military, "my reputation preceded me, but here, no one knows me"

In a world where networking is critical to landing a job, many soldiers are a step behind

"They have a great network in the military, but they have zero network in the civilian world," said Alan Hill, an employment specialist who works specifically with veterans from his base at state workforce centers in Bloomington and Shakopee
Pioneer Press
http://www.twincities.com/business/ci_21967723/

Fort Mill Times
http://www.fortmilltimes.com/2012/11/11/2321162/veterans-have-new-mission-finding.html

San Francisco Chronicle
http://www.sfgate.com/news/science/article/Veterans-have-new-mission-Finding-jobs-4027870.php



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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."



Norwegian youth train with Minnesota National Guard

Posted: 2017-02-16  10:52 AM
NOREX Youth CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. -Youth of the Norwegian Home Guard experienced some of Minnesota culture along with focused military style training during the first week of NOREX 2017.

The U.S.--Norway reciprocal Troop Exchange, which began Feb. 9, 2017, annually swaps approximately 100 Soldiers and Airmen from the Minnesota National Guard and a like number of Norwegian Home Guard soldiers as well as youths to experience each other's training, military lifestyle and most importantly, culture.

"It's rewarding interacting with more young people eager to learn about a new lifestyle and culture," said Capt. Brett Farniok, Youth Platoon Officer-in-Charge.



Warmly welcomed, U.S. contingent arrives in Norway for NOREX 44

Posted: 2017-02-12  01:38 PM
NOREX44 CAMP VAERNES, Norway - Following a muster at the 133rd Airlift Wing and an eight-hour overnight flight across the Atlantic Ocean, nearly 100 Soldiers and Airmen with the Minnesota National Guard finally arrived in Norway to conduct the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange on Feb. 9, 2017.

While the U.S.-based Soldiers were warmly greeted by members of the Norwegian Home Guard at Camp Vaernes, a similarly-sized group of Norwegian Home Guard members were received at Camp Ripley Training Center. The arrival of military members from both countries to their host nations formally began the annual exchange, which provides a unique opportunity for individuals to become fully-immersed in foreign military and social culture.

"Though I didn't know what to expect before getting here, they have been very welcoming," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Taylor Hanson, a member of the 148th Fighter Wing. "They are making sure we had everything."



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