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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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Minnesota National Guard Remembers the Holocaust with Jewish Community Relations Council

Posted: 2017-04-24  10:43 AM
Holocaust Museum Washington - Members of the Minnesota National Guard and the Air Force Reserve traveled to Washington D.C. with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (also known as the JCRC), to visit the Holocaust Museum, April 4, 2017, to honor the victims of the Holocaust. Also, traveling with this group were St. Paul and Minneapolis police officers along with students from various high schools around the state. For those in uniform that day, it was an opportunity to see, hear and experience the stories of victims and survivors of the Holocaust.

Each Service member who attended was asked to bring back a summary of their experience in the form of a presentation, professional discussion or briefing to their respective unit in order to help other Guard members better understand and remember that horrible event, to honor the courage of the victims and survivors, and to remain vigilant as members of the U.S. military.

"The honor and privilege of accompanying members of the Minnesota National Guard to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. met so many goals," said Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the JCRC. "I wanted to reinforce the importance of the commitment of the U.S. military to democracy. After all, it was the Allies that defeated Nazi Germany and ultimately put an end to the Holocaust."



Learning to instruct professionalism and discipline

Posted: 2017-04-19  02:15 PM
Funeral Honors CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - It was a challenging and rewarding two weeks for members attending the Army National Guard Funeral Honors Instructor Course, April 1-14, at Camp Ripley.

Soldiers of National Guard units from all over the United States took part in the course designed to educate team leaders in a variety of funeral honor detail tasks, traditions and responsibilities.

"It's a stressful course, but for our job, we have to be prepared to do our job under stress; and we all really benefitted from that," said Class Honor Grad, Sgt. Ryan Valline of the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry.



Chaplains support Muslim Soldiers by finding common ground

Posted: 2017-04-18  01:42 PM
Chaplain Shabazz ROSEMOUNT, Minn. - The Soldiers of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division had a unique opportunity to speak with one of the U.S. Army's five Muslim chaplains April 7-10, 2017. U.S. Army Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Khallid Shabazz, I Corps deputy command chaplain, travelled from Fort Lewis, Washington, to Minnesota to provide professional development for the division chaplain section.

"Soldiers perform at a higher level when they are spiritually fit," said Minnesota National Guard Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Buddy Winn, the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division command chaplain. "And, it's our job as chaplains to make sure Soldiers have their spiritual needs met, regardless of faith. Having Chaplain Shabazz here as a Muslim Chaplain provides the diversity in religious background that we can't provide internally."

There are five major religions supported by the chaplaincy: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist, but over 200 religions are recognized. Chaplains can only perform services for their particular religion, but they can provide support for all Soldiers, regardless of their faith.



Howling with pride - Minnesota Service members honored by MN Timberwolves

Posted: 2017-04-14  04:25 PM
Timberwolves ST. PAUL, Minn. - For the third consecutive year, Minnesota service members were honored with on-court recognition and other VIP treatments as part of the Minnesota Timberwolves Heroes of the Pack Program.

"We are very appreciative for what the military does for us, and we wanted to give something back to honor the military," said Roger McCabe, who along with wife, Nancy, is a driving force behind the recognitions through the FastBreak Foundation and Roger & Nancy McCabe Foundation. "This is our way of doing it."

Having lived through the Vietnam War - and with Roger and Nancy both having parents who served - the two philanthropists decided a few years back to build upon existing recognition efforts already underway by the Timberwolves. And with that, recognitions that were typically happening at Target Center in November expanded to include Minnesota Service members from all branches at every home game - a total of 41 honorees per season.



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