WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 12, 2011) -- The Army National Guard and Army Reserve are both committed to building a strong, resilient force through family programs and lowering unemployment, their chiefs said this week.
Army Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz Jr. and acting Army National Guard Director Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Carpenter told family members and family readiness group leaders that they understand the unique stressors on reserve-component families. They spoke at an Association of the United States Army family forum Monday.
"I have a full appreciation for what you all go through," Carpenter said. "It's our responsibility in the uniforms, as far as I'm concerned, to ease that to the extent that we can, to support families.
"We are working together as partners to develop synergy. You'll find some of the same programs in the Army National Guard and in in the Army Reserve, and different takes in some cases."
The Guard is training more master resilience trainers and resilience trainer assistants to help combat suicides, and both have local assistance centers nationwide -- family assistance centers for the Guard and Army Strong Community Centers for the Reserve -- where Soldiers and families from any branch or component can get help with everything from renewing ID cards to registering for TRICARE to finding civilian jobs.
"What was surprising to us is a third of them were active duty," said Stultz about those who used the centers. "We thought we were sitting there to serve the Reserve, but we had a lot of families come in and what we started to find out was when your husband is at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and is deployed for 12 or 15 months, a lot of times you decide to go back home to Rochester, New York."
Those families, he explained, might need help switching from one TRICARE region to another, or even getting back to their installations when their spouses return from deployment.
A staff member at the ASCC in Coraopolis, Pa., even heard one Soldier's daughter ask him where they would sleep that night. (He was there to get an ID card.) They found him a place to stay and even bought pizza for his little girls.
Another Soldier walked into the Oregon City center saying he needed a job, any job. One of the counselors found out what he wanted to do, enrolled him in college courses, found Pell grants and other resources for him, and helped him set up his GI Bill benefits so he could feed his family.
A local job fair there led to jobs for 14 out of 15 Soldiers, and Carpenter pointed out when the 53rd Brigade returned to Florida last year, 39 percent of the Soldiers were unemployed. Through partnering with the Reserve and state of Florida, they found jobs for about half.
"The great news about the National Guard is we have 54 adjutant generals and 54 states that work with the state governments, state leadership, community programs, to develop various initiatives to help solve issues with resilience, help solve issues with employment," Carpenter said. "All those kinds of things get down to a local level when you have an adjutant general and his team or her staff working on that problem, because if Soldiers in the National Guard don't have a job, they're probably not going to stay in the National Guard, because they're going to have to move somewhere to get employment."
The Reserve's Employer Partnership Program has also been extraordinarily successful, Stultz said, with companies like major trucking companies, General Electric Healthcare and Inova Health System partnering with the Army Reserve to fill their vacancies.
"In fact, the Army now is going to take this employer partner program and run with it," Stultz added, "because we've got over 2,200 employers now who have come to us and said 'We want to be part of this.' We talk about a problem with jobs in America: We've got a portal with 700,000 jobs posted on it right now where employers have said 'I'm looking for talent.'"
"I think the unsung heroes who are for resilience and for the capability for us to deploy Soldiers and units downrange lies in this room," Carpenter concluded. "You are the readiness piece of our units."