| Editorial: Commit, recommit to jobs for veterans
Yellow-ribbon sentiments aside, returning soldiers are struggling -- along with their civilian counterparts -- in a sluggish job market
Recent veterans may face even more daunting odds than others looking for work, said a Pioneer Press report this week: "Publicly, employers say they want to hire veterans and support returning troops Yet when (job) recruiters look at military resumes chock full of acronyms and military terminology, they're dumbfounded"
Apparently, war-zone lingo, ranks and military titles don't resonate in the corporate world
For post-9/11-era veterans in Minnesota, the annual unemployment rate was 117 percent in 2011, about double the state average, according to the latest data available, our report said More recent national data show these veterans faced an unemployment rate of 10 percent in October, well above the national rate of 79 percent for that same month
"One of the biggest difficulties veterans face when it comes to employment is clearly articulating and translating their military skill sets into civilian skills sets," Capt John Hobot, a Minnesota National Guard spokesman, told us
In response, he said, Maj Gen Richard Nash, adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard, wanted to create an "unemployment resource apparatus" for returning service members The result is the Interagency Employment Work Group, with more than 20 state, federal and local entities working to create "successful pathways" for returning veterans trying to find employment
The group was instrumental, Hobot said, in assisting unemployed soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th "Red Bull" Infantry Division The 2,700 Red Bulls who returned home in the spring represented the largest single deployment of Minnesota National Guard troops since World War II
Before the troops' return, Nash led an initiative to send an Employment Resource Team to Kuwait to help 526 job-seeking service members with resume writing, career planning and other employment resources Human resource managers from Best Buy, Target and US Bank, as well as representatives from state agencies, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and the St Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, were among those making a weeklong trip They provided a fine example of business advocacy on our soldiers' behalf
And the results are encouraging The 1st Brigade Combat Team's unemployment rate is down from 19 percent in May 2011 to below 5 percent last month, according to Hobot
It's still a challenging job market, however, St Paul Chamber President Matt Kramer told us "Employers are adding people, but very selectively"
With many resumes to choose from, they can be very choosy in finding the exact match for their qualifications, he said, noting efforts to address veterans' needs that include encouraging employers to write job descriptions that give comparable credit, for example, to "leadership experience in the military" and "civilian management experience"
Let's remember that President Barack Obama chose Minnesota last June to support hiring veterans, telling a crowd at Honeywell headquarters in Golden Valley that with the war in Iraq over and the conflict in Afghanistan winding down, more than 1 million "outstanding heroes" are returning to civilian life, and the nation must do more to help them find jobs
"I believe that no one who fights for this country should ever have to fight for a job when they come home," said the president
Businesses today face tough times, made even tougher by the uncertainty corporate leaders say is so challenging to their operations
Even when the times include a looming fiscal "cliff" and likely tax increases closer to home, our commitment to ease our soldiers' return to civilian life is one we must keep It's a commitment that's always important, but perhaps never more so than in uncertain times
Litchfield and Local Veteran Honor Gen. John Vessey at Armory Open House
Posted: 2017-03-10 08:50 AM
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
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
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
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."