Guard, Reserve partner to help employ returning troops
August 12, 2009
By T.D. Jackson
CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. (Army News Service, Aug. 12, 2009) -- In a move the first of its kind, the Army Reserve struck a partnership with the Indiana National Guard to better provide employment opportunities for Soldiers returning home from deployment.
Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve, and Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, Indiana adjutant general, signed an agreement that the two components would work together with employers to acquire better job resources for troops. Also signing the Employer Partnership agreement Aug. 4, were several Indianapolis employers to include the Indianapolis Fire Department, UPS and ITT Educational Services.
In a separate signing Monday were Columbus, Ind., Mayor Fred Armstrong and Steven Chancellor, chairman of AmeriQual Group LLC., one of the producers of the Army's Meals Ready-to-Eat.
Stultz said often when Soldiers return from a deployment, they are going back to jobs where they are underpaid and some, he said, don't have jobs at all.
"Everybody can benefit from this pact," said Stultz. "We're all one Army."
What the agreement states is that the Army Reserve, Guard and the employer partner agree to explore mutually beneficial initiatives that support the missions of each organization. The agreement encourages employers to post their job leads on a specific site - www.armyreserve.army.mil - which has a section dedicated to providing troops with better employment.
Roger Peterman of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve said this collaboration between the Guard and Reserve enables employers to go to both components with job leads.
"We're ensuring that warrior-citizens are taken care of too," Peterman said. "We're very proud to join with the Army Reserve to best provide meaningful employment to servicemen and women."
The adjutant general expressed his excitement about the milestone the state was setting.
"Indiana is the first state to sign this kind of agreement for the Guard," Umbarger said.
"What this means is our very own Soldiers will now have access to this wonderful partnership which will pair them up with an employer who needs their specific skills."
The Army Reserve chief said that in his talks with various employers he found that the qualities they were looking for in a worker were the qualities that every Soldier already has.
"The military is a great pool of talent that people are looking for," Stultz said. "Loyalty, dedication, responsibility... These are all the qualities that our Soldiers possess."
Stultz launched the Army Reserve Employer Partnership Initiative early last year and now more than 400 employers have signed agreements under the program.
Stultz later explained that as a national strategy of how to maintain the force, match a Soldier's civilian skills with a similar job in the military, that way the Soldiers are never lacking in training.
"For example, you can build a force of nurses who already work in civilian hospitals, and as Reserve Soldiers they'll work in military hospitals," he said. "Or like the Reserve Soldiers who, as civilians, are truck drivers for Conway. They're doing it every day."
Connecting citizen-Soldiers with jobs that match their military skill sets is one of the goals the Employer Partnership Initiative aims for, in addition to providing resources in a time when many are drying up.
Col. Todd Townsend, Camp Atterbury commander, said he's excited about the three-fold agreement.
"It's great that the National Guard, Army Reserve and the civilian employers are coming together to support deploying Soldiers," he said. "It's all about opening up the eyes of the civilian work force and letting them know what Soldiers can bring to the table."
(T.D. Jackson serves with Camp Atterbury Public Affairs.)