By Sgt. Kimberly Browne
Capt. Emil Joseph Kapaun, chaplain, served with Headquarters Company, 8th Cav. in the Korean War where he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, or DSC, Aug. 18, 1951. The award of the Medal of Honor to Kapaun is an upgrade of the DSC.
Kapaun, also a World War II veteran, sacrificed his own safety while the regiment was attacked by hostile forces and he moved among the wounded to provide medical aid and comfort.
At dusk, Nov. 2, 1950, the troops who were able to fight were ordered to attempt to break through the surrounding enemy. Kapaun however, remained behind to administer medical treatment and render religious rites wherever needed.
Upon capture, Kapaun and other prisoners of war, known as POWs, were forced to walk more than 85 miles to the city of Pyoktong, North Korea. While forcibly walking this march through snow and ice, Kapaun assisted the wounded and encouraged other Soldiers to do the same.
While he was held captive, he snuck around to more than 200 men that were also captive to say prayers and give support. He also secretly moved able-bodied men out to the countryside at night, while avoiding guards, to get food and firewood to help keep the prisoners alive. At this point the other POWs had dubbed him the “good thief.”
Kapaun was a Prisoner of War from Nov. 2, 1950, until he died from a blood clot, May 23, 1951.
“Father Emil Kapaun is an American hero who embodies the Medal of Honor’s ideals as our nation’s highest award for military service,” said Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division. “He distinguished himself with valor before his capture and continued to care for his fellow Soldiers at a great risk to himself while interned in a prisoner of war camp. Although Father Kapaun did not survive to be liberated along with hundreds of the prisoners he ministered to and assisted, his faith, honor and selfless devotion to duty reflects the finest tradition of the U.S. Army, the 1st Cavalry Division, and the Army Chaplain Corps.”
By David Vergun
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March, 2013) — The Army projects a decrease in 10,000 to 14,000 recruits across the services this fiscal year as military entrance processing stations shut down one day per week.
Beginning next month, civilian military entrance processing stations, or MEPS, employees will be furloughed, said the Army’s deputy chief of staff, G-1, Lt. Gen. Howard B. Bromberg. He explained that the Army is the executive agent for MEPS, which processes entry-level personnel for all the armed forces.
Bromberg and the other service chiefs testified Wednesday at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the impact of the continuing resolution and sequestration and how it will affect military personnel, their families and the operations and maintenance budget.
Budget shortfalls will also result in fewer Army recruiters, he said, thereby “limiting our ability to penetrate the market.”
The officer corps will also take a hit, Bromberg said, as scholarships and training are reduced at ROTCs at universities across the country and at the U.S. Military Academy.
Another adverse impact on recruiting will be fewer dollars for advertising and marketing campaigns used to attract new Soldiers, he said.
Recruiting and retention will likely be affected “for years to come due to loss of confidence in the stability of the Army” as money for training and professional military education for officers and noncommissioned officers becomes scarce, he added.
“Loss of training is not recoverable to untrained Soldiers and units,” he said, meaning that combat readiness will be reduced well past this fiscal year even if a deal is struck later in the year.
FAMILY PROGRAMS HIT
Family programs provide a comprehensive network of resources to help Soldiers and their families to successfully navigate their way through Army life and deployments, Bromberg said.
The Army will try to keep those programs that deliver the most benefits, but many important programs will, nonetheless, still be cut, he said.
Programs which could be impacted include child abuse prevention, family advocacy, programs for children with special needs, resiliency training that assists Soldiers and families in building stronger relationships and post recreation programs.
Which programs will stay and which will cease will be determined by a comprehensive analysis, he said.
“We know there are some complementary programs and some that are redundant,” he said, providing an example. “We know Strong Bonds, which works on building family relationships during deployments and other stressors is a very, very popular and important program and that it has reduced domestic violence and divorce rates, but we haven’t done the hard analysis on it yet.”
TUITION ASSISTANCE ENDS
More than 200,000 Soldiers across the active and reserve components use tuition assistance, Bromberg told lawmakers.
It’s such a popular program, he continued, that when the Army gave 72-hours notice that the program would end, “we burned through $500,000 an hour” with last-minute TA requests “so we did overspend” and will have to find money internally to cover that.
Soldiers still have other options, like the GI Bill and some states still have TA for their National Guard, he said, adding that it’s still not a good substitute for the $383 million program.
TA might not be completely terminated in the future, he said. “We’ll go back and relook at the amount and how to prioritize it,” he said. “Maybe we’ll (adjust it) with $115 million in savings and turn some of it back on.”
Bromberg concluded, warning lawmakers that “the magnitude of fiscal uncertainty will have grave consequences on our Soldiers, civilians and families if nothing is done to mitigate the effects of operations under the continuing resolution shortfalls, overseas contingency operations shortfalls and sequestration. The Army will be forced to make dramatic cuts to military personnel and family programs.
By Jill Jolly (USAG Wiesbaden)
WIESBADEN, Germany (March, 2013) — Caring for a pet requires a lot more than simply feeding the animal. That’s one of the lessons several younger participants learned in the Wiesbaden American Red Cross’ Pet First Aid class.
“Your pet is a part of your family,” said Capt. Ericka Carroll, a member of the Wiesbaden Veterinary Clinic staff and class instructor. “It is important to know what to do in a medical emergency in the first critical moments to make sure your pet is safe before seeking veterinary care.”
About 11 people attended the March 1 class, held at the American Red Cross offices on Clay Kaserne.
Students first learned how to be prepared in the case of an emergency. Carroll provided a list of supplies and information to have for a pet first aid kit in case of a medical emergency.
Participants also learned what the normal vital signs are for cats and dogs. They were taught how to take vital signs, such as pulse, respiratory rate and temperature, in their pets.
“Knowing what is normal is important in recognizing what is abnormal,” said Carroll.
The class then went on to learn what to do in certain emergencies, such as if a pet has breathing problems, cardiac problems, an injury or a sudden illness.
Cody Ford, an owner of two small dogs, said he and his wife took the class “so we feel prepared if our dog has an accident or injury.”
“I sit and walk dogs,” said his wife, Claudia Penner. “I want to make sure I know what to do.”
Carroll also reminded the participants to keep updated information on their pets. She told them how important it is to have updated pet tags and to keep microchip information up to date in case they are lost.
For more information regarding pet first aid visit the American Red Cross located on Clay Kaserne in Building 1023E or call civ (0611) 705-1760.
By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March, 2013) — The Army has made available to Soldiers a new online resource to complement the Ready and Resilient Campaign that launched March 12.
The campaign’s website is available now at www.army.mil/readyandresilient, and is designed as a “one-stop shop” for resources related to Soldier resilience and readiness. The new site includes sections for medical readiness, personal readiness, and Soldier transition issues.
On the front page of the site is a list of hotlines for Soldiers to call for when “something bad happens,” said Col. John Sims, with the Army’s Office of the Chief of Public Affairs. Such an event could include a sexual assault, suicide issues, traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Army already has dozens of programs and websites that can help Soldiers improve their readiness, help them become more resilient, and help them deal with crises such as sexual assault, suicidal ideation, post-traumatic stress disorder, or traumatic brain injury for instance. But the new website is meant to bring access to those resources together in one place.
“You can find this information in 500 other different places. But this is supposed to be the one-stop shop for Soldiers,” Sims said. “We wanted to make a place where leaders, Soldiers and family members could go and find information and quick resources, emergency hotlines, and learn to improve their resiliency.”
Resilience is an individual’s ability to bounce back when “something bad happens, in the simplest terms,” said Sims. A Soldier’s resilience, he said, can come from how they were raised, the experiences they had in their lives, and how they were trained.
Sims said the secretary of the Army, the chief of staff of the Army and the vice chief of staff of the Army want to show the connection between a Soldier’s resilience and a Soldier’s readiness for duty. That connection, and maintaining that connection, is the impetus for the Ready and Resilient Campaign.
Readiness, Sims said, is the ability of an individual or unit to accomplish its assigned task or mission.
“We are recognizing that it’s not just the training we go through that makes us ready, but all the things that we bring as an individual,” Sims said.
Col. Theresa Gonzalez, with Army Medical Command, said for an individual, not being ready could be the result of administrative, medical, or mental health issues. Readiness, she said, means that a Soldier is resilient to the many stressors that all Soldiers face.
“The difference between people who do well and sustain their capacity, is what we refer to under the name resilience,” Gonzalez said. “A more resilient Soldier is able to accept the same load, allostatic load is the term we would use. They can accept the same allostatic load and continue to perform their mission.”
An “allostatic load,” she said, describes the physical consequences to one’s body that result from repeated exposure to stressors. Those stressors could include, among other things, relationship issues or financial issues, for instance.
Such stressors can affect a Soldier’s ability to concentrate, Sims added. And long-term exposure to such stressors, and a Soldier’s inability to adapt to them and deal with them can also affect his or her health, Gonzalez added.
Additionally, Gonzalez said, Soldiers rarely have just one stressor in their lives, they often have multiple stressors that can affect them. And the Ready and Resilient Campaign website, and program overall, is meant to help Soldiers identify in one place the things that are affecting their lives and then point them to available solutions.
Sims said the Ready and Resilient Campaign offers “nothing new” in terms of programs, but instead aims to take an array of existing Army programs and optimize them, to make them all more effective. Additionally, he said, some programs that are redundant have been eliminated to ensure resources are directed to other more effective programs.
“Really what we are doing is changing how we view these programs,” Sims said. “No longer do we view suicide as unconnected to negative behavior, or sexual assault, or other things. We are now seeing them much more holistically.”
The Ready and Resilient Campaign website is just one part of a larger Campaign to emphasize how Soldier resilience directly affects a Soldier’s readiness, and the readiness of that Soldier’s unit. The goal of the Ready and Resilient Campaign is to make it easier for Soldiers, commanders and families from all components of the Army to find the resources they need to make themselves ready for the war fight, and to help them understand the connection between being resilient and being ready to be a Soldier.
By Lisa Ferdinando
The across-the-board budget cuts are drastically impacting a very visible mission of the Army, engaging and interacting with the American people.
The Army has a wide range of community outreach activities that support recruiting goals and tell the service’s story to the nation, from showcasing aerial precision with spectacular flyovers and parachute jumps to the world-class musical performances of the United States Army Field Band.
For the most part, these activities are being put on hold, although officials said some public performances and outreach events may be approved by special exceptions, depending on circumstances.
Aerial demonstrations, including flyovers, jump team demonstrations, and participation in civilian airshows and military open houses, will cease as of April 1.
The Golden Knights, the Army Parachute Team that has been thrilling crowds for decades, will not be performing public demonstrations for the remainder of the fiscal year.
The Knights were scheduled to perform 70 shows before a projected audience of 3.5 million people across the United States, said Matt Leas, the chief of Marketing Integration with the Army Marketing and Research Group.
“While it is unclear when the demonstrations will resume, the Golden Knights will continue training to maintain required credentials and certification to ensure the team is ready for future opportunities to showcase their capabilities to the American people,” he said in a statement.
“The Golden Knights mission is to maintain the Army’s connection with the American people and they look forward to resuming that role in the future,” said Leas.
The Army Field Band, the musical ambassadors and the premier touring musical representative of the Army, was forced to cancel its spring tour that would have taken it to communities throughout the southeast United States for 139 performances in April and May.
The cancellation is a big disappointment for the Soldiers who have practiced for months and the communities that were preparing for and excited about the concerts, said Army Field Band spokesman Jonathan Agee.
He said planning for the tour began about a year in advance and involves sponsors in the local communities who have already spent money for advertising and to secure venues.
“The response has been a mix of understanding, most people are aware of the sequestration measures that are in place right now, and extreme disappointment because the communities look forward to this,” said Agee.
He said Soldiers are seeking other ways to fulfill their musical mission. The Army Field Band, based at Fort Meade, can still perform in the commuting area and is looking to increase its local outreach.
The musicians are also considering doing virtual clinics for schools, which would allow them to interact with the public without incurring any costs. Agee said they are hopeful Congress will reach a deal, allowing the band to go on its summer tour, which would begin in late June.
“We not only are out there telling the Army story to the American public, but we’re also engaging schools,” Agee said. “Most concerts we invite the top bands people in the area from the local high schools up on stage to perform a piece with us. It’s a pretty big event for a lot of people and the disappointment has been running deep.”
The Army’s Birthday, which is celebrated throughout the country each year with a series of events in June, has seen funding for the festivities slashed. Department of the Army headquarters has canceled its much-anticipated Army Birthday Ball for this year. In previous years, the ball has brought together Army leadership, Soldiers, wounded warriors, veterans and military supporters for an evening of dining, music and socializing.
Other birthday events will continue, such as cake-cutting at the Pentagon and a Twilight Tattoo ceremony the evening before. There will still be an Army run at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., and a wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery.
Other areas impacted by the sequester include military participation in events abroad and civilian monetary awards. The Army has suspended tuition assistance for Soldiers, and Army civilian employees are set to be furloughed one day a week beginning the last week of April.
By North Dakota National Guard
The exercise, Central Accord 13, partnered Cameroon’s military with about 160 U.S. service members, as well as service members of five other nations in Central Africa to enhance aerial delivery as well as patient treatment and evacuation.
North Dakota’s contingent served as the command and control element for the exercise, which Guardsmen spent months prepping for alongside others from across the U.S., Europe and Africa. Two liaison officers, Capt. Travis Hackey, of West Fargo, N.D., and 1st Sgt. Bruce Newland, of Grand Forks, N.D., arrived in Douala, Cameroon, Jan. 10, as preparations increased. The remainder of the North Dakota Guardsmen, who primarily serve with the Valley City-based 231st Brigade Support Battalion, arrived in mid-February.
“It was rewarding to see our Central African partners acquire new skills to enhance their operational capacity for responding to not only natural disasters but for ensuring peace and stability as they work together in their region,” said Col. Giselle Wilz, of Bismarck, N.D., who serves as the Task Force Central commander. “It was also great to see how our North Dakota Guardsmen came together to provide all of the logistical, administrative, security and communications support needed for an exercise of this scope. Not only did they do a fantastic job, but the lessons learned in planning and conducting an exercise such as this will benefit our state during future missions.”
The 10-day exercise officially kicked off with a Feb. 20 opening ceremony, which led right into instruction from U.S. service members on preparing aerial delivery packages, establishing drop zones, providing emergency medical treatment, and evacuating wounded and injured people via Cameroon air assets. The academic portion quickly progressed to practical exercises and then a three-day field training exercise during which the Cameroon Defense Forces made its first-ever aerial delivery from a C-130 transport plane.
Cameroon Army Lt. Col. Egbe Ado, chief of staff at the Cameroon Army Engineer Base near Douala, commended the U.S. military’s “pedagogic way of transmitting knowledge,” which enabled such an accomplishment to occur so quickly.
The new ways of using their existing airframes, two rotary-wing aircraft in addition to the C-130, will help the military better fulfill their missions, said Col. Bede Benoit Eba Eba, deputy chief of the Cameroon Air Force staff, who spoke of how difficult it was to respond quickly when devastating floods hit northern Cameroon in September.
The country’s varying terrain, from coastal plains to mountains, and barely navigable roadways in some areas added to the mission response time for the forces.
“It was very rewarding personally to see the enthusiasm displayed by all participants throughout the exercise,” said Lt. Col. Ed Johnson, of Devils Lake, Task Force Central deputy commander and 231st battalion commander. “The transformation of the Cameroon Defense Forces from the beginning of the academics phase to the final day of the FTX was simply incredible. With only a few days of academics, the Cameroon Defense Forces applied their newly acquired skills during the FTX and performed their tasks flawlessly.”
During the March 1 closing ceremony, the Central African militaries demonstrated those new skills for senior leaders from Cameroon and the U.S., including Gen. Carter Ham, U.S. Africa Command commander, Robert Jackson, U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon, Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general, and Brig. Gen. Peter Corey, U.S. Army Africa deputy commander.
Formerly known as Atlas Accord and Atlas Drop, U.S. Army Africa initiated the annual exercise in 1996 to enhance military interoperability, providing an opportunity for African militaries to achieve new goals while giving U.S. forces the opportunity to improve their abilities in training and operating with foreign militaries.
By Staff Sgt. David J. Overson, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Combined Joint Task Force-101, will operate in Regional Command – East, an area roughly the size of Virginia, which includes 14 provinces and 7.5 million Afghans.
The 1st Infantry Division wrapped up its year-long deployment and will be heading back to Fort Riley, Kan.
“Success in Afghanistan is now measured by what our Afghan partners can do rather than what we, as a coalition do,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William C. Mayville Jr., commanding general of 1st Inf. Div. and CJTF-1, during a brief address at the ceremony.
The 101st Airborne Division, based out of Fort Campbell, Ky., assumed command of RC-East for the third time during Operation Enduring Freedom. This is the same role that the division filled during deployments in both 2008 and 2010.
“I am very pleased to have the opportunity to return to RC-East with the 101st Airborne Division and work with our partners in the Afghan Security Forces,” said Maj. Gen. James C. McConville, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division and CJTF-101, during his speech at the ceremony.
Several of the 101st’s brigades have already been operating in RC-East for many months. The 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, the 1st Brigade Combat Team, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, and elements of the 101st Sustainment Brigade welcomed their division headquarters into theater.
A distinguished guest list comprised of International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan commander, U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., and the ISAF Joint Command commander, Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, along with other regional commanders were in attendance at the ceremony.
McConville impressed the audience as he addressed the Afghans in attendance with the following words, spoken in Dari.
“I am happy to return to Afghanistan to work with you. I am confident that you will be successful because of the strength of your Afghan Security Forces. You are truly Afghan strong.”
By 1st Lt. Danielle Monroe, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
The team is tasked with providing construction support, grassroots events, and civic health engagements in order to foster goodwill and collaboration between the two nations.
The outgoing Civic Action Team, or CAT, led by Air Force Capt. Matthew Adams, left an indelible impact on the Palauan people. In their six-month rotation, his team completed three large-scale community projects, 14 technical assists, 55 community relations events, trained 15 and graduated four apprentices, and provided aid to more than 1,100 patients. Their professionalism and dedication extended into the changeover process as well, by making sure their Army “brothers-in-arms” smoothly transitioned into their new role.
“Working with [the Air Force] over the past two weeks has been infectious,” Sgt. Loren Pino said. “Our Soldiers are more motivated than ever to start the projects and interact with the community.”
As the ceremony concluded, Feb. 15, and the Air Force prepared to head home for some well deserved time with their families, the “Never Daunted” Soldiers began preparing for the work ahead.
Over the next six months, they will be tremendously busy ensuring their legacy is akin to that of the previous team. The will begin work on a pre-engineered building for the Ngardmau Fire and Police Station, as well as working to repair Aimeliek Road, which shows heavy signs of wear due to traffic and weather.
“For me, it’s pretty awesome to know that the work I’m doing will directly benefit the people of Palau,” said Staff Sgt. Justin Vegafria, the project supervisor for the Fire and Police Station Project. “It’s an honor to be able to use my knowledge and my skill set to train apprentices and help out other civil servants.”
With the strategic “pivot” towards the Pacific, missions like the CAT’s are more important than ever. The relationships made and the goodwill extended between the people of Palau and the CAT are already remarkable.
“The feel of this island reminds me of home,” said Sgt. 1st Class Benoit Fregiste, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the mission, and a native of the Virgin Islands. “I’m honored to be a part of something with such a direct impact to the local community and a community I can so easily relate to.”
The excitement in the Soldiers of the Civil Action Team is electric and palpable around Camp Katuu, their home during this mission. As the team prepares for multiple projects, engagements, community events, medical assessments, and apprentice training they look forward to the work to come, and are quietly confident in their abilities to perpetuate the rousing success the Air Force left in their capable hands.
By T. Anthony Bell
FORT LEE, Va. (March, 2013) — Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Derrick Davenport remembers the bitter taste of defeat during last year’s Culinary Olympics in Germany.
“They beat us up pretty bad over there,” he said of the German team, “but it’s good to reclaim victory on the home front.”
The come-back came in the form of a gold medal and first place in the international category, held March 6, during the 38th Military Culinary Arts Competitive Training Event that concludes here Friday. The live-cooking event included teams from Germany, Canada and France. A team from Colombia was a no-show for the competition.
Davenport and Sgt. Sarah Deckert, both members of the U.S. Army Culinary Arts Team, won by less than a point over the Germans, who also earned a gold medal. The Canadians took home a silver medal as well as the French team.
Quartermaster General Col. John E. O’Neil IV presented the medals. He thanked the participants for sharing their competencies and “teaching us all what right looks like in the culinary arts world.”
Davenport, fresh from a win in the Armed Forces Chef of the Year event held the day before, said the international event is prestigious because it stands alone as a category, but it is not much different than any other culinary contest.
“It’s still cooking,” he said. “Everyone has their own style that is significant to their culture, so we try to bring American regional cuisine and present it in a way that the judges can recognize, showcasing what we do.”
The competition was built around what is commonly known as a mystery basket, culinary lingo for menu items that are only revealed just moments before the contest start. Deckert said mystery baskets present elements of the unknown to competitors, forcing them to make do with what is available.
“It really challenges your natural cooking ability,” she said.
Competitors were required to formulate a four-course meal using the mystery basket items — in this case rack of lamb, pheasant, red snapper, scallops, a variety of fruits and vegetables, and rice.
“We had to use every ingredient somewhere in the four-course,” said Deckert. “It really was a challenge.”
When the allotted time of four hours had elapsed, the U.S. team had whipped up courses that included roasted lamb with risotto and caramelized onion and parsnip soup. Deckert said it helped to have spent some time together on the USACAT.
“It was our first time competing together,” she said, “so for me, it was a really great opportunity to do a mystery basket with someone so talented. It was a really great experience to see what we could produce. It was a lot of fun.”
The international category is only in its second year of existence. Many of the participants were enthused about this year’s event and said they gained much from it.
Second year participant Cpl. Jean-Louis Lassonde of the Canadian Army said the competition was anything but predictable.
“We knew a bit more of what to expect,” he said. “We knew the rules (a change from last year). The challenge was harder this year. There were things that we never saw before, but it was fun. It’s fun to come back. It’s icing on the cake for us.”
Stafford DeCambra, the head judge in the competition, said the international category has growth written all over it because of the reciprocal learning aspects and public interest.
“The competitors will learn from the other countries,” he said, “what it is, how it is, what they’re used to, why they use certain products; and the guests will say, ‘Wow, I never thought of doing this or that. That’s really cool. I’ve got to try that. I wonder what it tastes like.’ It puts a lot of excitement in all of this.”
By Tech Sgt. Brandy Fowler, New York Air National Guard
The Soldiers, who just returned from deployment to Afghanistan and Kuwait, learned how to write a resume, interview for a job and translate their military skills into something that makes sense for a civilian employer during the three days of training at the Adams Mark Hotel.
The Transition Assistance Program is mandatory for Soldiers leaving active duty who are unemployed, said Andrew Depalo, the director of Family Programs for the New York National Guard. Service members leaving active duty as well as Guard and Reserve members who do not have jobs now have to go through it.
The Veterans Opportunity to Work Act, or VOW Act, of 2011 established the program and allocated the funding, he said. It’s the first time the New York National Guard has offered the program.
“The program provides service members with employment opportunities and gives them the tools and resources to become successful in the community” DePalo explained. “The training focuses on transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce. It’s about getting these service members actively engaged back into the community.”
For Spc. Jon-Christopher Dixon, from Central Square, N.Y. the class offered a chance to move closer to his goal of taking his skills as a Military Police Soldier and turning them into a job as a United States Marshall.
“My resume is mediocre and this training will help strengthen it. It’s also helping me with the federal hiring process,” said Dixon, a member of the 27th Brigade Special Troops Battalion.
“This course is a great bunch of tools for our toolbox, ” said Spc. Andrew Waite, who is also a member of the 27th BSTB.
“I have been looking for a job ever since I returned from a deployment three months ago,” the Lowville, N.Y. Soldier said. I need help with my interviewing skills and need to learn how to write a cover letter and resume in order to market myself to prospective employers. This course is going to help me be better organized in job seeking and this class can only help me improve myself.”
The instruction highlights websites that returning veterans can use as a resources for job hunting.
One of these is the New York National Guard’s “Job Zone” at http://dmna.ny.gov/jobs/.
Maintained by retired Command Sergeants Major John Willsey and Robert Van Pelt, the website allows Soldiers to find jobs being offered by businesses that want to hire veterans and Guard Soldiers and Airmen.
Other websites help translate military skills into their civilian equivalents like the Military Occupational Specialty Translator maintained by the Veterans Administration at https://mst.vaforvets.va.gov/mst/va/mos-translator. The site allows service members to pick their service and military skill and see what civilian jobs their rank and experience translates into.
“I would have never known about these beneficial websites if it wasn’t for this course,” Dixon said.
“I’m not required to be here but I am glad to be here because I am learning a lot of things I didn’t know before,” said Air National Guard Sgt. Michael Jenkins, a Scotia resident assigned to Hancock Field Air National Guard Base.
The students are learning these skills from people who care and have seen the benefits of the program first hand, said instructor Michele Lewis.
“I am a firm believer in this program. My father was a veteran and I watched as he came back from a deployment. It was hard for him to find a job. He didn’t have the program to help him out and it took him about a year to get back on his feet,” she said.
“We have a lot of veterans coming home and with all the problems that veterans are returning with, employment shouldn’t have to be another one they have to deal with,” said Sgt. 1st Class Byron Barnes, a member of the 427th Brigade Support Battalion from Rochester, N.Y.
“I’m getting some pretty good pointers and am excited to see where this is going to go. I think this is a good program and the instructors are passionate about the knowledge they are offering us,” he added.
The course has many advantages, DePalo said.
Not only are the Soldiers receiving valuable training and getting expert advice, the State of New York is also saving money because of it, he added.
“When these Soldiers go back into the community to work, it cuts back on the cost of unemployment insurance for the state,” Depalo said. “The state unemployment rate has decreased due to the VOW Act.”
“The Soldiers leave here more educated about job hunting and when they finally get back to work, it’s a boost to their confidence and in turn, a boost to their mental health. Unemployment is hard on everyone involved in the member’s life. This is a tool to help eliminate negative stigma associated with unemployment,” Depalo said.