Kentucky Employment Initiative Workshop and Job Fair helps troops and families on the road to success

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Story by David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Frank Casper, an instructor from the Employer Partnership for the Armed Forces, was among those who offered assistance to service members during the Kentucky ESGR Employment Assistance Workshop held on August 8 in Lexington. (Photo by Tim Stinnett, Kentucky ESGR)

Click here for more photos.

Click here for the WUKY story on how National Guard troops are effected by high unemployment.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – It was standing room only at an employment workshop geared toward helping members of the National Guard family find a job, build a career and get on the road to success.

Kentucky Employer Support of Guard and Reserve recently partnered with the Kentucky National Guard to present an employment assistance workshop for unemployed and underemployed troops and their families.  The workshop took place  Aug. 8-10 in Lexington.  There was no cost to the participants.

“This is the first workshop of its kind for Kentucky,” said Phil Miller, Kentucky ESGR coordinator.  “Early this spring the national focus of ESGR turned toward employment initiative.  It is our intent to prepare service member for employment and assist them in gaining employment.”

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Training for war, looking for jobs. National Guard troops returning from deployments often find themselves coming home to no paycheck and an uncertain future. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Hiler, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

“This is in addition to ESGR’s traditional role of recognizing employers for their support of the military and mitigating any issues that arise as a result of an employee’s membership in the guard and reserve,” he said.

Current National Guard civilian employment information data indicates a 14-20% unemployment rate for members of the Kentucky National Guard.  Some service members have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan to find the place where they used to work is no longer in business, driving the need for assistance.

Miller said the workshop was more successful than anyone imagined.

“We originally expect about 50 participants,” he said.  “But when word got out we were flooded with requests.  We managed to squeeze in about 62 in total.”

“We even had to give away some of the instructors’ reading materials to accommodate the troops,” he joked.

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Kentucky Army National Guard Spc. Joseph Elder, Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion 139th Field Artillery, was among the more than 60 reserve component service members who took part in the Kentucky ESGR Employment Assistance Workshop held on August 8 in Lexington. (Photo by Tim Stinnett, Kentucky ESGR)

The three-day event ended with a job fair.  Lt. Col. John Bates, commander of the Kentucky Army Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery, attended and was impressed with what he saw.

“Every Soldier I talked to had two to three interviews lined up,” he said.  “I went around the room to thank all the employers and it sounded like there were more jobs in the room than we had Soldiers.”

“They [the employers] were all excited to be there and commented several times on how they like the discipline and maturity a Soldier brings to their organizations.”

Programs like the employment assistance workshop help everyone, not just Soldiers and Airmen.  While the promise of a secure job provides service members and their families with stability and peace of mind, it also ensures the stability of community-based National Guard units, particularly when called upon to respond to state and national emergencies.

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More than 60 Kentucky National Guard and reserve service members attended the the Kentucky ESGR Employment Assistance Workshop held on August 8 in Lexington. (Photo by Tim Stinnett, Kentucky ESGR)

“National Guard personnel are disciplined and skilled workers who display pride, responsibility, professionalism and proven leadership in what they do,” said Miller.  “They understand the mission of their civilian jobs and make it a priority to get results, all while displaying a strong work ethic.

“It not only makes good business sense to hire a Guardsman, but is also essential to sustaining the all-volunteer force for the future,” he said.

Plans are now underway to have a similar workshop this fall in the Louisville area.  Look for announcements in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, for more information on this and other employment matters contact Phil Miller at philip.k.miller@us.army.mil.

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