Soldiers get job skills to improve employment

Story and photos by Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

121206-Z-GN092-020

Monai Bell-Carson, an employment assistance consultant assists Spc. Martin Scruggs of the 1204th Aviation Support Battalion during the unit’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) in Covington, Ky., Dec. 6, 2012. TAP provided the Soldiers with classes on resume writing, interview techniques and using their military experience to attain or improve their employment. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Sgt. Scott Raymond)

COVINGTON, Ky. — After a recent tour overseas, Soldiers of the 1204th Aviation Support Battalion gathered for a hands-on employment assistance workshop Dec. 3-9 at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington, Ky.

The workshop, created by the U.S. Departments of Defense and Labor, called the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), offered training on resume writing, interviewing techniques, and current methods for job searches.  Professionally trained facilitators interacted with participants in one-on-one learning, including information on Veterans’ benefits.

Lt. Col. Tom Roach, commanding officer of the 1204th is extremely proud of the work his Soldiers did on deployment. But he had to deal with an alarming number of troops facing unemployment when they returned.  He said there have been improvements with several Soldiers now employed with many still “aggressively” looking.

“The National Guard in general, and the Kentucky National Guard have done such a good job preparing Soldiers to accomplish their mission in theater. I think it’s tremendous that we are now putting that same effort into preparing Soldiers for success in their communities,” said Roach.

121206-Z-GN092-014

Sgt. Tasha Fields and Spc. Ben Cahill, both with the 1204th Aviation Support Battalion take noted during an employment assistance workshop in Covington, Ky., Dec. 6, 2012. The workshop was part of the unit’s “reblue” transition program following their deployment overseas. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Sgt. Scott Raymond)

The efforts, according to Kentucky Employment Support for Guard and Reserve (ESGR) are meant to stabilize the Guard’s force by improving their abilities to obtain and retain civilian employment through education and job search training.  The week provided ESGR as well as other state and national agencies to put available resources in front of those who need help and to help them navigate through to employment.

Among those Soldiers without a full-time job is Capt. Patrick Rogers.  Roach said Rogers came off active duty, where he had deployed twice before, to deploy with the 1204th.  Rogers has gathered all of his military documents in hopes of putting together a new resume. TAP instructors said Rogers’ approach could create a “rockstar” resume and is an example of the right way to revise one’s resume.

“As an unemployed member of the Guard, I came to the program to gain as much knowledge as I could get to help me with my job search,” said Rogers. “The many people and resources offered from TAP have been well appreciated.”

The program also benefited those already employed, such as Sgt. Tosha Fields, who actually was given a promotion upon her return from deployment.  Roach praised her work in the unit and said it is because of her time spent preparing the unit for deployment and while overseas that the company saw the increased value in an employee. Fields said one should not assume that they can get promoted just because they are already an existing employee.

121206-Z-GN092-016

An instructor with Inverness Technologies speaks to Soldiers of the 1204th Aviation Support Battalion during the unit’s Transition Assistance Program in Covington, Ky., Dec. 6, 2012. The Soldiers received several classes during the employment assistance workshop to attain or improve their employment. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“Participating in this week’s events will allow me to be prepared for future opportunities that become available,” she said. “I plan to walk away with skills to prepare me to pursue other opportunities.”

Rogers remained optimistic for his future employment and was happy to see such a program included for the benefit of Soldiers.

“I am very thankful to have this offered as a free service and plan to take full advantage of the resources provided.”

On the final day of the workshop, a job fair was held for the Soldiers to put to work the knowledge they had gained during the training.  Nearly 50 companies were on hand to offer employment opportunities.  Soldiers “dressed up” from their uniforms into appropriate job seeking attire, handed out their newly revised resumes and utilized recently acquired interview techniques in their best effort to persuade a local business to say “you’re hired.”

According to Kentucky’s Yellow Ribbon Program, at least two Soldiers were hired that day, with several others scheduling interviews.  Soldier and leaders of the 1204th all agreed that the week was valuable time spent that could stabilize and benefit not only the 1204th, but is good for the Guard and good for Kentucky.

About kentuckyguard