Michigan National Guard
Recognizing the positive effects that stable civilian employment has on resilience, retention and readiness of soldiers and airmen, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Major General Greg Vadnais, The Adjutant General of the Michigan National Guard, made reducing the high unemployment rate of service members a top priority in 2011.
At General Vadnais’ direction, the Civilian Employment Program was established to address this concern. It is the commitment of Governor Snyder and the Michigan National Guard leadership to finding jobs for service members that has led to Michigan being one of the most proactive employment-support commands in the country. Leading these efforts are Brigadier General Michael Stone, a 27-year veteran of the National Guard and First Lieutenant Amy Deitrickson, the Civilian Employment Program Liaison Officer. In fact, it was with the support of General Stone that the Michigan National Guard became the earliest supporter of the American Jobs for America’s Heroes (AJAH) campaign among the state commands, hosting the campaign’s inaugural meeting in Lansing, Michigan three years ago.
Under his leadership, 500 job placements have been made and unemployment among service members has been reduced substantially. The Michigan National Guard develops relationships with employers, recruiters and a broad array of state and national organizations that include AJAH and Corporate America Supports You (CASY) as well as Heroes to Hired (H2H) and Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) to name a few.
A key strategy is to improve the skills and marketability of service members through additional education programs. Earlier this year the leadership of the Michigan National Guard lobbied hard for passage of a state-sponsored tuition assistance program for service members. This legislation was vital to its employment efforts since National Guard service members frequently do not have access to the same funding for skills training as veterans who are separating from active duty. Its efforts were successful and Michigan National Guard members are now eligible for tuition assistance.
General Stone has been a guest speaker at a series of conferences sponsored by the Michigan National Guard and ESGR instructing employers how to successfully recruit and retain veterans. He also recently presented the Michigan National Guard’s employment initiatives in a webinar sponsored by the AJAH campaign for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.
As a supplement to formal job fairs, the Michigan National Guard offers employers the opportunity to visit Guard units that have high unemployment but appropriate skill sets during drill weekends. This recruitment strategy has been especially effective in linking Guard members to employment and vocational training opportunities.