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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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Camp Ripley strikes first before wildfire season

Posted: 2017-03-24  10:19 AM
Controlled burn CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Every spring Camp Ripley begins its annual controlled burn program to help reduce the risk of wildfire during training.

"Usually the burns are completed every spring before the summer annual training season begins," said Tim Notch, training area coordinator on Camp Ripley. "However, the warmer weather conditions provide a nice opportunity for preventative burns earlier this season."

As in years past Camp Ripley will conduct controlled burns on approximately 13,000 acres of the 53,000-acre military reservation. The burns are done in coordination with the staffs of the Camp Ripley Department of Public Works and the Camp Ripley Environmental Department along with support from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.



Minnesota Guardsman earns recognition through Leads 2 Enlistment program

Posted: 2017-03-23  09:46 AM
Pfc Trevor Nelson DULUTH, Minn. - Pfc. Trevor Nelson received the Minnesota Distinguished Recruiting Ribbon and a Minnesota Recruiting and Retention Battalion medallion for excellence from Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Serbus, March 18, 2017, at the Duluth Armory. Nelson earned these awards as part of the online referral system, Leads 2 Enlistment for referring four friends who have joined the Minnesota National Guard.

"I talked to some buddies in my school about the Guard. They liked the benefits, so I put their info in the app and let my recruiter take over." said Nelson. "I thought it would be fun to serve with friends and help them figure out their path in life."

Nelson is currently a senior at Cloquet Senior High School and assigned to the Recruit Sustainment Program in Duluth. He attended basic training at Fort Benning in the summer of 2016 with follow-on training in the summer of 2017 to become an infantryman.



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.



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