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Pilot program gets troops involved in job search while deployed
WorkSource teams with businesses and employer support volunteers on effort

(From Employer Support of Guard and Reserves News)
 
 
From left, Debbie Gargalis, Manager, Work Source Oregon, Tom Insko, Boise Cascade Regional Manager, and Jack Johnson.  In the rear (L) is Dan Easlon, Veteran’s Representative for Work Source Oregon, and Steve Lyon, HR Manager for Boise Cascade.
The employment process usually takes place when troops return home; however, Oregon’s pilot project is focused on what can be done while soldiers are still in theater.  
In September, the Oregon National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry based out of eastern Oregon will return from a year long deployment in Iraq. When these soldiers come home and take off their uniforms, the goal is for them to have jobs to report to. This pilot project will help them to avoid the ranks of the unemployed.
 
The battalion’s leadership is aware that employment is a key readiness factor for reservists.  It has great impact on service members, families, and the military unit.  The question for that unemployed soldier to ask themselves is this: “Can I get a job when I get home?”  They have legitimate concerns regarding job availability and in their ability to land one when they return home.
 
Goals include:
• Assist soldiers to have every opportunity to prepare for employment while in Iraq. 
• Submit resumes and job applications prior to redeployment. 
• Make sure that unemployed reservists have every opportunity to secure jobs prior to release from active duty.  In this case, the focus is on securing employment during the last six months of deployment while serving in Iraq.
 
Despite a high operating tempo, unit leadership is working to encourage and support its soldiers as they go through the employment process. The battalion will be exposing their troops to resume writing, assisting with job applications, and teaching interviewing techniques.   The goal is to provide everything necessary to enable their soldiers to find jobs while deployed.
 
 “I can’t say enough good things about the scope of this effort and the cooperation and teamwork of the employment programs and agencies, the Army National Guard, and the employers involved,” said retired Brigadier General Norm Hoffman, the State Chair of the Oregon Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Committee.
 
“We have a unique opportunity with the 3/116th Cavalry mobilization.  First, the unit leadership has taken responsibility for working the jobs/education piece in theater.  They have provided resources, meeting rooms, command emphasis, and brought their leadership team on-board.  This means that civilian employment and education are being considered key aspects of readiness.  It was obvious that they have decided that Soldiers can’t afford to set aside their civilian employment future until the unit returns home.”
 
“Next, ESGR Area Chair, CWO 5 (Ret) Jack Johnson deserves a lot of credit for bringing his team together in support of this effort.  They brought employment agencies, the Yellow Ribbon program, employers, and communities together.”
 
“The next step in this process is to connect troops to potential employers. This is a difficult task, but not insurmountable when the right resources come together. Since deployed troops can’t come to interviews stateside, the interviews are coming to them through online audio/video means.  Jack has found some employers who are willing to interview soldiers and make hiring decisions while they are still overseas.  The redeployment impact on families will be significant and secured employment will markedly assist in creating an overall positive reintegration process.” 
 
CWO 5 (Ret) Jack Johnson has developed a plan to assist the Battalion as part of the ESGR Employment Initiative Program.  The battalion’s home station armories are located in the communities within Jack’s area.  He is working closely with the WorkSource Centers in the counties that have significant numbers of unit members who live there.
 
Jack, along with his area committee, has mobilized the assistance of WorkSource Oregon, who will host long distance interviews with employers in Oregon and the soldiers in Iraq.   Dan Easion, Veteran Representative for WorkSource Oregon, will assist and support the efforts of ESGR and the Battalion.  They will be contacting employers in their communities and will invite them to participate by providing job applications and interviewing soldiers online.  Debbie Gargalis, Manager, WorkSource Oregon has agreed to coordinate her department’s efforts throughout the area.  State Veteran Representative Gary Dominick, Veterans' Program Coordinator for the Oregon Department of Employment has agreed to coordinate interviews for soldiers who live outside of the Battalion’s home station areas.  
 
The first employer to participate in the interviews will be Boise Cascade, Inland Region.  Tom Insko, Boise Cascade Inland Region Manager, said that he is pleased to be part of this project.  Boise Cascade has two local employees who now serve with this battalion.  Tom says he looks forward to their return and the redeployment of the battalion.  He advised that Boise Cascade Inland Region employs approximately 900 people in the states of Oregon and Washington.  This figure includes a large number of reservists throughout these two states.  Boise Cascade signed a Statement of Support for the Guard and Reserve many years ago.  It was re-awarded on April 25, 2011.
 
To encourage this effort and recognize employers who participate, Oregon’s State Chair, BG (Ret) Norm Hoffman, and Executive Director, COL (Ret) Robert Elliott will tour the home station cities of the battalion, and meet with soldiers' employers in June.
 
Jack Johnson said that “…the 3d Battalion 116th Cavalry’s leadership is right on target with this effort.  Soldiers within the battalion want and will need employment once they arrive home from Iraq.  I also see this ESGR project as a ‘best practice’ model that can be used by other military units that redeploy in the future.”
 
 Battalion Command Sergeant Major William Wyllie said, “I look forward to working with this (Employment Initiative) team and being the "first ever" in a project which helps soldiers have the peace of mind that they can find a great job in Oregon when they return home.   I also look forward to hearing from Gary Dominick, Debbie Gargalis and Dan Easlon. This conduit between deployed soldiers and employers will lead soldiers to success. Sounds like this great team can bridge the gap between soldier and employer!”