DENVER (Army News Service, April 1, 2009) -- Sgt Gregory S. Ruske couldn't stop smiling.

Each time the Army Reserve signed an agreement with a new employer his face got a little brighter.

"It just demonstrates how much the public supports the military," said Ruske, a sergeant with the 96th Regional Readiness Command who attended a partnership signing March 20, at Denver's county building. "You can't help but smile each time a business signs the agreement - here we are in a struggling economy and they're willing to put their support in writing and hire Army Reserve Soldiers."

The alliances, launched under the Army Reserve Employer Partnership Initiative, will help strengthen the community, support Army Reserve Soldiers and their families, and maintain a strong economy, said Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve.

It was a sentiment echoed by Colorado's governor.

"It is my pleasure to add Colorado to the list of employers who will proactively seek to hire and retain Army Reserve Soldiers when they return home," said Gov. Bill Ritter, the first governor to sign a partnership agreement.

"This partnership with the Army Reserve expands the opportunities for the men and women who have made great sacrifices on our behalf. It is one more step toward attempting to repay the debt we owe our brave troops and veterans."

A total of 11 Denver employers -- including the city of Denver and the state of Colorado -- agreed to work collaboratively with the Army Reserve to enhance job opportunities for America's Soldiers and veterans, like Ruske.

The other Denver companies and organizations that joined EPI March 20 are: Adecco, BC Services, CICSCO, Front Range Airport, Loomis, NorthGlenn Dodge, Pennica Financial Group, Pepsi Bottling Group and Western Freightways.

It gives him hope, said Ruske, of Aurora, Colo.

Currently a juvenile corrections officer at the Mount View Youth Service Center in Denver, Ruske has found the tools offered by the EPI invaluable, he said.

"I want to find something in law enforcement, security," said Ruske, 29, the fourth Army Reserve Soldier to earn the Silver Star for heroic service in Afghanistan. "I think it's more suited to my personality and I like to be more active, not confined to a cubical."

It's also more suited to the skills he learned while an infantry Soldier in the Army and his bachelor's degree in sociology from Colorado State University.

Employers at the ceremony in Denver couldn't have agreed more as Ruske collected a stack of businesses cards. But that's not the only help he has received from the initiative - Carl Blum from Tip of the Arrow Foundation, another Employer Partner, has been helping Ruske with his resume and networking.

"There are tools out there to help you in your job search but EPI is like a power tool - most of the grunt work is done for you and you can concentrate on the details," said Ruske, known as Scott to his friends.

Since its inception in April 2008, almost 300 public and private employers have joined the initiative, including Fortune 500 corporations, hospitals, industry associations, state agencies and local police departments.

"I'm pleased to officially begin an enduring strategic partnership with so many of Denver's leading employers and the State of Colorado," Maj. Gen. Mari K. Eder, deputy chief of the Army Reserve, said during the ceremony. "I look forward to collaborating with our newest valued partners to achieve mutual goals to attract, develop and retain a quality workforce."

The EPI establishes a process whereby employers and the Army Reserve share the talents of trained professionals.

"It's not like the old days where you had to know someone, play golf, to get a job," Ruske said. "EPI has created this symbiotic relationship that benefits both the Army Reserve and the employers."