Fort Bliss, TX — As the war in Afghanistan draws down and more Reserve and National Guard Soldiers return to their civilian lives, many face challenges on the home front. Veterans face higher unemployment rates than nonveterans with the youngest of veterans, aged 18 to 24 years old, experiencing a 30.4 percent jobless rate in October (2011), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data.
The Army has put an increased emphasis on increasing the transitioning Soldiers’ ability and knowledge to obtain jobs, job opportunities, and education. As part of a continued effort to ensure its Soldiers succeed outside the service, a newly passed federal law requires Army National Guard and Reserve component Soldiers to attend the Veteran’s Opportunity to Work/Transition Assistance Program.
The 402nd Field Artillery Brigade and Directorate of Mobilization and Demobilization recently began implementing the training as part of the 14-day demobilization process for all redeploying National Guard and Reserve Component Soldiers.
The program’s focus is to identify Soldiers that are returning from deployment and facing unemployment upon their return home. The five-day program consists of briefings from Army Career and Alumni Program, Army Community Service, and Army Continuing Education Service; Veteran’s Affairs; and Department of Labor representatives.
Throughout the program, Soldiers receive materials and information on programs such as: The Presidential Veterans Employment Initiative Task Force and the Secretary of the Army Transition Policy. These programs are designed to encourage civilian employers to employ veterans. Soldiers also receive training on how to build a competitive resume and to access numerous federal and state programs aimed at assisting Soldiers with their transition out of active military service.
Since the introduction of the program at Fort Bliss, 294 Soldiers received the training and 48 are currently unemployed.