California National Guard
Work for Warriors, the California National Guard’s employment program designed to reduce unemployment among the ranks of the California Command, was launched in 2012 as a result of the collaboration between Major General David Baldwin, The Adjutant General of the California National Guard and then Speaker of the Assembly, John Perez.
The program was developed in response to concerns that unemployment and underemployment of service members threatened to jeopardize the overall effectiveness of the unit. The goal of Work for Warriors was to reduce the California National Guard’s unemployment rate by 25% within one year by directly placing unemployed service members into full time civilian careers.
The Work for Warriors employment team met that goal and has since expanded from a 5-person team to a 14-person team, staffed entirely by currently serving National Guard members. The team’s leader, Program Director Major Aaron Roggow, (right), is passionate about finding meaningful employment for unemployed service members and assisting employer partners in identifying highly qualified veterans to meet their hiring needs. And his highly effective team shares his passion: since its inception two and half years ago, Work for Warriors has placed 3,100 service members and family members in civilian jobs.
Work for Warriors is based on a direct placement model, a high touch approach to job placement that favors direct and continuous contact with the job applicant and with the employer through all phases of the search process. Matching a candidate whose skills are most compatible with an employer’s job requirements may be only part of the process. The employment team may assist with resume writing, interview preparation, career counseling or a host of other activities all designed to secure the right job. The Work for Warriors team acts as a “headhunting” service for companies to find talented National Guard members, although its services, unlike those of the traditional search firm, are free.
Ongoing access to a pipeline of available jobs is vital to the continued success of the program. The team actively enlists California employers with job openings on a continuing basis. They are currently partnering with over 300 businesses and always in search of other opportunities. Corporate America Supports You (CASY) and American Jobs for America’s Heroes (AJAH) have been contributing allies for several years. In addition to being highly effective in placing unemployed veterans, Work for Warriors is one of the most efficient government employment programs in the country. In fact, it has been widely recognized for its ability to achieve such a high placement record at such low cost. The average federal employment program has a cost of approximately $10,000 per placement while Work for Warriors’ average per placement cost is $650. Work for Warriors has also been highly successful in securing funding for its program. After initially receiving a $500,000 grant from the California State Assembly in 2012 to launch the program, it received a million dollars in funds from the federal government. Those funds have gone towards hiring additional employment officers and expanding the scope of the program to include the State’s Reserve forces.