ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, Sept. 11, 2007) - Although much of the stress associated with a National Guard deployment concludes upon returning home, a new concern can surface for Soldiers and Airmen who return with no job waiting.

For those Soldiers and Airmen seeking work, there\'s a new Internet tool, Hire a Hero to link military jobseekers with military-friendly employers.

"It's a site best described as where 'My Space' meets '' for the military community," said Dan Caulfield, the executive director of the non-profit organization Hire a Hero that operates the site. "It's a social network enabling veterans to connect with jobs."

Hire a Hero was designed to match employers searching for employees with military qualities and skills with job seekers looking for careers. More than 600 businesses have participated on the job board, and more than 180,000 individuals have registered at the site. The site also allows those in the military community to expand their networking abilities, especially in the Soldiers' and Airmen's home communities.

"When someone comes back from a military deployment, they want to go back to work in their home area usually," said Mr. Caulfield, a former Marine Corps infantry officer. "The networking features of Hire a Hero allow the Soldier or Airmen to talk to more people in their area."

Mr. Caulfield stressed that networking is an important aspect of a job search, with success rates for jobseekers increasing dramatically with increased networking. He said a recent internal Hire a Hero survey found jobseekers who networked with more than six site users had a success rate of more than 30 percent.

"We know that the more people you talk to as you look for a job, the better your chances of finding a good job," Mr. Caulfield said. "We want to get you connected with people local to where you want to work."

Mr. Caulfield believes the Hire a Hero site will be especially effective for National Guard members and said much of the potential for the site will stem from its use by National Guard Soldiers and Airmen. With that goal in mind, Hire a Hero signed a memorandum of understanding with the California National Guard to work with that state's public affairs, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, and family services offices in an effort to assist in employment acquisition as well as recruiting and retention.

The initial statistics for the use of the site by California Guard members during the first three months have been impressive. According to California Army Guard Col. Charlotte Miller, 694 California employers have posted more than 20,000 potential job opportunities on the site, and 706 connections between employers and California Guard members have occurred.

"It is important to us that our Soldiers are provided with quality civilian employment opportunities," said Maj. Gen. William Wade II, the California National Guard's adjutant general. "We are excited to be the first state to take part in this initiative."

Mr. Caulfield anticipates other states including Texas, New York, Florida and Pennsylvania will sign memorandums of understanding with Hire a Hero in the near future. Eventually Mr. Caulfield would like to sign MOUs with all 54 states, territories and the District of Columbia.

Before becoming the executive director of Hire a Hero, Mr. Caulfield was managing director of Helmets to Hardhats, a program that has helped about 60,000 military personnel transition into the construction industry.

(Sgt. 1st Class Erick Studenicka writes for the National Guard Bureau.)