Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Press Release from AJAH: National Guard-Veterans Jobs Campaign Joins White House Push for “Streamlined Employment Opportunities”

National Guard-Veterans Jobs Campaign Joins White House Push for “Streamlined Employment Opportunities”

ATLANTA, April 30, 2013 – The American Jobs for America’s Heroes (AJAH) National Guard and veterans’ jobs campaign today joined with First Lady Michelle Obama and the current White House initiative to help service members and veterans find and qualify for quality jobs in the private sector.

The AJAH campaign, made up of more than 80 trade and professional associations, non-profit organizations, and state Chambers of Commerce representing more than 150,000 companies nationwide, is a non-profit alliance with the National Guard to help unemployed National Guard members, veterans and spouses find skilled jobs in the private sector.  Phillips 66, an energy manufacturing and logistics company (NYSE:PSX), is the lead national sponsor for this campaign.  Currently, 60,000 National Guard members are unemployed – approximately 20% of the total force.

First Lady Michelle Obama’s announcement yesterday of the new IT credentialing and training effort underscores the ongoing challenge of “translating military experience in hundreds of disciplines to match private sector jobs requirements,” said Steve Nowlan, president of Center for America, a non-profit coordinating the AJAH campaign.

“The men and women who serve in the National Guard or have served in the military branches are trained, skilled, and equipped to move into private sector employment in many fields, including manufacturing,” said Bill Gaskin, president of Precision Metalforming Association (PMA), which represents the $113 billion metalforming industry in North America with 900 member companies.  PMA is a member of the AJAH campaign.

“The process of transitioning from the military to the private sector presents obstacles that our industry, the AJAH campaign, and the federal government’s current push will address,” said Dave Tilstone, president of the National Tooling and Machining Association, which represents the $40 billion tooling and machining industry with 2,000 members and 50 chapters nationally.  NTMA is a member of the AJAH campaign.

How American Jobs for America’s Heroes works

AJAH provides direct, hands-on support for employers and for job applicants, serving both as a critical stand-alone program and an important complement to existing employment efforts and job fairs.  Job postings are plugged directly into a case management system that unifies National Guard Employment Network and voluntary state supports groups around the nation into a unified infrastructure to improve matching and follow-through.

Companies that register are assigned case managers who work with company recruiting staff to provide hands-on help in making matches. There are no fees to participating companies or job candidates.

Employers who want to post open positions on National Guard and veteran’s job banks can sign up through the Center for America website at: www.CenterforAmerica.org/register.html

About The Center for America
The Center for America (www.centerforamerica.org) is a non-profit organization founded in 2004 that focuses its national efforts on educating and empowering the public about barriers to free enterprise, the need for expanded skills training and job creation, and the impact of lawsuit abuse on reducing job creation.

Connect with the AJAH campaign - 

Twitter:              @USJobs4USHeroes  
Blog:                http://americanjobsforamericasheroes.blogspot.com/

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Give "citizen warriors" the support they need at home

In addition to the challenges National Guard members face in finding employment, they also sometimes face difficulties balancing the expectations of their employers with the demands of their continued Guard service.

An op-ed published this week by the South Carolina Post and Courier tackles that issue head-on.

Penned by John Green, a retired officer of the 315th Airlift Wing, Air Force Reserve in Charleston and the state chair of South Carolina Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense operational committee, the op-ed trumpets the state's accomplishments in lowering unemployment rates among National Guard Service members and issues a call to action for continued support efforts.

In the fall of 2011, Green writes, 14% of South Carolina National Guard members were unemployed.  Today, that number is down to 3.9%. This is the result, Green says, of government programs and private sector support.

But the state's good work cannot stop now, says Green.  He challenges South Carolina employers to go beyond hiring and take on a support role as their National Guard member employees continue their commitments to the Guard and provide quick response to overseas combat and domestic crises.

Read Green's full op-ed here.

Importantly, Green and many others have noted that hiring National Guard members is well worth any compromise necessary to accommodate their training and deployment schedules because Guard members are well-trained leaders who bring integrity, perspective and toughness to the workplace.

If you think your business would benefit from National Guard employees, register to submit your open jobs to American Jobs for America's Heroes on the Center for America website.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spotlight on Supporters: The Plumbing & Mechanical Association of Georgia

This week's spotlighted supporter is the Plumbing & Mechanical Association of Georgia (PMA).

PMA is a partnership of industry contractors, manufacturers, wholesalers and industry affiliate members who commit to providing business management tools for the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors and other Industry Professionals.  PMA is affiliated with the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors-National Association (PHCC).

Representing the interests of the industry since 1892, PMA has a special focus on education and communication.  For example, PMA offers several education and training courses (e.g., for state licensing exams).  You can learn more about those programs here.

We were very grateful in February when PMA posted a link to the American Jobs for America's Heroes campaign newsletter in its weekly legislative update which went to all Georgia PMA members.

Download this flyer from the Center for America website to see how your trade association can join PMA and our other campaign supporters.

Texas National Guard Responds to Fertilizer Plant Explosion in Texas

Earlier this week, we wrote about members of the Boston National Guard and Guard members from other, nearby states responding to the horrific attacks at the Boston marathon.
Photo from Slate.com

Last night, a massive explosion at a fertilizer plant rocked the small town of West, Texas.  The plant is located near a residential area and early reports indicate that between five and 15 people were killed and over 160 people were injured in the blast.

As with the marathon early this week, National Guard members lived up to their "Always Ready, Always There" motto and were among the first responders.

The Associated Press reported this morning that about 20 members of the Texas National Guard were on the scene.

According to the report, the unit on-hand typically has mobile labs and can perform air monitoring while also assessing chemical and biological hazards at disasters.

This is another terrible tragedy and another reminder to be grateful for the constant readiness and willingness of the US National Guard members.

Take a moment to show your gratitude by registering to submit jobs and hire heroes on the Center for America website.

Remarks by the First Lady at the Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013 Bill Signing

A few days ago, we wrote about first lady Michelle Obama attending a bill signing at the Maryland State House.  Mrs. Obama witnessed Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's signing of the Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013 yesterday.  The following is a full text of her remarks.

MRS. OBAMA:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Good afternoon.  It is truly a pleasure to be here in Maryland today.

But before we get started, I want to take a moment to say that our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Boston.  My husband continues to monitor the situation, and he has directed the full resources of the federal government to assist state and local authorities as they investigate this horrific act.

First lady Michelle Obama witnesses bill signing.
Photo from The White House
And what happened on Monday was a reminder that in times of crisis, here in America we respond with courage, and grit, and selflessness.  That’s exactly what we saw from the people of Boston, and from all those who rushed to aid the victims, especially the police officers and firefighters, the first responders, and our men and women in uniform.

And that is the spirit of Boston, but it is also the spirit of this country.  And in many ways, that’s the spirit of service and sacrifice that we are here to honor today.

So I want to thank Governor O’Malley for hosting us, but also for his tremendous leadership for the state of Maryland and for all of his efforts on behalf of our troops, veterans, and military families.

I also want to thank Lieutenant Governor Brown; the Secretary of the Navy, Secretary Mabus; and all of the servicemembers from Fort Meade and the United States Naval Academy who are here with us today.

And I’d like to recognize all of the Maryland state legislators:  Attorney General Gansler, Mayor Cohen, the representatives we have here from veterans service organizations and the University of Maryland, and to all of the military family members who are joining us today.  Welcome, and thank you for being here.

And, finally, I want to thank Senior Chief Hite and his wonderful family who I got to meet -- Mom and Dad are here, and his handsome son, who I will embarrass -- (laughter) -- but we are proud of you all.  But I want to thank you all for your service to this country, because the truth is, is that every family member serves, and every time I meet a servicemember, a veteran, I don’t just thank him or her, I think children and parents and grandparents and brothers and sisters, because everyone in some way is part of that service.  And thank you for sharing your story with us today.

Two years ago, Jill Biden and I launched Joining Forces in large part because we’d heard too many stories like that of Senior Chief Hite’s.  We had heard the stories of military spouses like Janelle Gray, whose husband serves in the Air Force at Fort Meade.

Janelle was a professional counselor for seven years in Minnesota and North Dakota.  But when she and her husband were transferred here to Maryland, she found out that she’d either have to wait three years or take additional coursework and get extra training before she could get back to work.

And then there were all the veterans we’d heard from -- the Army medics who couldn’t get jobs as EMTs; the Marine welders who couldn’t land a manufacturing job here; or the convoy drivers who couldn’t get hired to drive a semi.

Earlier today, I was over at the U.S. Naval Academy, and I met with some wonderful individuals who are here today in the healthcare professions who have served this country for years -- even decades -- and have mastered so many highly technical, high-demand skills.

But even with all that experience, these men and women wouldn’t even be considered for entry-level jobs in their fields because they didn’t have the right civilian credentials.  And all of this is happening after we have already asked so much of our troops.

We have asked them to risk their lives in combat, manage dozens of peers, operate complicated machinery, oversee millions of dollars of assets, and save lives on the battlefield.  And then, when they come home, we’re also asking them to repeat months of training for skills they’ve already mastered.  So we have to ask ourselves:  How does this make sense?

And the same is true for our military spouses.  We’re asking them to juggle a full-time job and their family’s finances, and the entire household all alone while their spouse is deployed overseas.  And we’re asking them to move their families to new communities and new states every couple of years.  And after they do all that, we’re also asking them to wait months and pay hundreds of dollars in fees just to be able to continue their careers?

That’s just not right.  And let me be clear -- this is about more than just eliminating a few bureaucratic headaches for these men and women.  This is about improving the financial security for thousands of military families.  It’s about giving veterans and their spouses an opportunity to build their careers and create a better future for their children.

So with all of that on the line, we knew we had to get this fixed.  And that meant we had to turn to state leaders like so many of you here in this room, because you all are the only ones who can make an impact on these licensing issues.

And I’m here today not just because Annapolis is beautiful -- which it is, and I wish I could stay and have ice cream and crab cakes -- (laughter) -- but I would clog up the city.  I will be back.  (Laughter.)  But I’m here today because here in Maryland, you all have done just that.

You have come together to take a bold step forward on behalf of our troops, veterans, and military families.  And by doing so, your state is joining a growing list of states that are addressing this issue.

Since last year, when I spoke to our nation’s governors about the issues facing military spouses, the number of states that have passed laws to help those spouses has more than tripled -- from 11 to 36.   And since we spoke with the governors again at the end of February of this year, this time about veterans issues, 13 states, including Maryland, have acted to help our veterans earn credentials.

And let me tell you, your bill here in Maryland is one of the best bills that we have seen in this entire country.  You all are tackling three big issues all at once.  You’re helping our veterans obtain professional credentials.  You’re helping them earn college credit.  And you’re making it easier for military spouses to continue their careers as they transfer to your state.

So I want to say a huge thank you to Governor O’Malley for his leadership on this effort and to all of the legislators who have made our military families a priority.  You all didn’t just ask yourselves, can we do this.  You asked yourselves, how can we do it right; how can we serve our men and women in uniform as well as they’ve served us.

But I also want to make an important point here:  This is not simply about patriotism and repaying our debt to our servicemen and women.  This is also about putting highly skilled individuals to work in communities all across Maryland and throughout the country.  It’s about strengthening our hospitals and our schools, and making our businesses more productive and dynamic.

That’s why the bill that’s being signed into law today is so important.  And I want you to know that we’re working at the federal level to address these issues as well.  For example, my husband has championed programs to help our troops get their civilian credentials in areas like manufacturing, medicine, and transportation before they leave the Armed Forces.  And I want to recognize the Navy, in particular, for leading the way on this issue with sailors earning more than 80,000 credentials in the last six years.

So all of these efforts couldn’t be more important as we look at what’s coming in the years ahead.  With the Iraq war over, the war in Afghanistan winding down, more than a million servicemembers are going to be hanging up their uniforms and transitioning back to civilian life.  And that comes on top of the hundreds of thousands of veterans and military spouses already out there looking for work.

So even though we’ve made a lot of progress on veterans employment over the past few years, as a country, we still have a lot more work to do.  And that means we need to redouble our efforts across the board.  We need more businesses to make big, bold commitments to hire and train our veterans and military spouses.  We need more hospitals and colleges and employers from every sector to recognize our veterans’ and military spouses’ unique skills and experiences, and give them a fair shot at a job.  We need every single state that has not already acted on these licensing and credentialing issues to follow Maryland’s lead and clear away every unnecessary obstacle facing our veterans and military spouses.

And while these bills are a wonderful first step, we can’t rest until we’ve worked with our licensing boards, colleges, and universities to make sure these bills are fully implemented so that our veterans and military spouses get the credentials and the jobs they need.

And if we all step up in this way, if we all keep coming together on this issue, we will be sending a powerful message of love and support that makes a real, concrete difference for our military families.  We’ll be helping them build their careers, support their families, and find new ways to serve this country, which they so desperately want to do.  And that’s what Joining Forces is about.  And that’s why we’re not going to stop working until every state has enacted legislation to address these issues.  We’re not going to stop until every single military family in America gets the honor and support they’ve earned.

And so to all the military families here today, I want you to know from the bottom of my heart that we are going to do whatever it takes to make that happen.  We are in this for the long haul.  And we are bound and determined to repay your service and sacrifice with service and sacrifice of our own.

So to our servicemembers and military families, thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you so much for everything you have done for this country, and everything you will continue to do in the years ahead.  And to all the elected officials, to the leaders from the University of Maryland, to all the people of this great state, thank you for stepping up to show your support for these brave men and women.

I look forward to continuing our work together in the months and years ahead.  Thank you, God bless, and let’s get some signing done.  (Applause.)

2012 House Committee on Veteran's Affairs Hearing: Lowering the Rate of Unemployment for the National Guard

One of the major issues we face at American Jobs for America's Heroes is the discouraging problem of employers being hesitant to hire members of the National Guard for fear that they will have to deploy again, leaving them short-staffed.

Some call it discrimination.  Others call joining the National Guard a career killer.

A little over a year ago the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity held a hearing on this very issue called "Lowering the Rate of Unemployment for the National Guard."

In his opening statement, Hon. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), then the chairman of the subcommittee said, "As the owner of a small business, I understand the pressures on employers that the loss of a critical employee creates.  But in the end, the question I always ask is, who is making the greater sacrifice, the employer or the service member who is literally going in harm’s way and that member’s family who must cope with all the stresses of a deployment?"

Hon. Bruce Brayle (D-IA), then the subcommittee's ranking member, echoed the same sentiment in his opening statement saying, "It is our responsibility to create a culture where all American businesses recognize the important service of their employees who have answered the call to duty. Employers are vital to empowering employees who are members of the National Guard and Reserves.  We want all of our veterans to succeed and we want their employers to do well also."

Catch up on this important issue and hear input from employers and veterans by watching the archived webcast of the hearing here.

Then register on the Center for America website to hire the many heroes who are searching for jobs.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Horrific Boston Marathon Explosions - National Guard Ready to Respond

There were more than 400 members of the Massachusetts National Guard on hand for the Boston marathon on Monday, tasked with helping to keep the route clear for the 27,000 runners who registered to race the 26.2-mile course from Hopkinton, MA to Boston.

One article published before the race quoted Pfc. Matthew S. Knowlton, a military policeman assigned to a spot at the starting line.  Knowlton said, “This is a very positive setting, I’m just happy to be here. There are a lot of people here but it’s a great crowd.”

But, as we all know by now, a day that began like the many previous ones in which the Guard has been called upon to assist local law enforcement at the race took a decidedly different and unbelievably tragic turn.

National Guard: Always Ready
Photo from MSN
Video from the scene posted on the National Guard website and broadcast on countless media outlets shows Guard members among the first responders, rushing toward the injured by tearing down the barricades they were protecting just moments before.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick highlighted the work of the Guard when he explained in a press conference that the Guard was securing the scene and limiting access to it.  He has noted that their work will be ongoing for the next few days.

In addition, President Obama heralded the Guard's assistance when he said, "Boston police, firefighters, and first responders as well as the National Guard responded heroically, and continue to do so as we speak."

By early yesterday morning, more then 1,000 members of the Massachusetts National Guard as well as Guard members from nearby states had descended on Boston to provide support.

As our hearts mourn for the people affected and the whole city of Boston, we also salute the bravery of the many National Guard members who took action immediately and selflessly in a most unexpected and horrific emergency.

Today, more than ever, commit to supporting our troops by registering to hire heroes on the Center for America website.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Maryland Gov. to Sign Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013 Tomorrow with Michelle Obama Present

We have written about the first lady's support for the troops before and tomorrow she'll be at it again, attending a bill signing at the Maryland State House.

Michelle Obama will witness Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's signing of the Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013.

According to the Washington Post, this legislation "will enable veterans who apply for occupational and professional licenses in Maryland to get credit for their military training, education and experience."

The Post reports that bill will do two things - 1) Require public colleges and universities to develop policies that award academic credit for relevant military training and education and 2) Create expedited licensing procedures in the state of Maryland for veterans and military spouses who hold professional licenses in other states.

We're looking forward to seeing this bill become law tomorrow!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Spotlight on Supporters: Rhode Island Manufacturers Association

As promised, here is our weekly spotlight on a very special American Jobs for America's Heroes campaign supporter.

This week, we are showing our gratitude for the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association (RIMA).  

We were thrilled when RIMA, which represents over 40,000 manufacturing jobs in Rhode Island, send an e-mail to its members in support of AJAH.

Here is some more information about RIMA - 

RIMA is a nonprofit, member-driven association created to enhance the ability of Rhode Island manufacturers to compete effectively and profitably in local, national and global markets by legislating Rhode Island into the top quartile among states in terms of manufacturing competitiveness. RIMA’s goal is to serve as the unified voice of the state’s manufacturing sector. RIMA will educate and influence the public, the media, and government officials regarding the important contribution a strong manufacturing base makes to our local, national and global economies.

You can join RIMA and our other campaign supporters by visiting the Center for America website and registering to post open jobs for heroes. 

National Guard Members' Next Battle: The Job Hunt

The Center for America's campaign American Job for America's Heroes has a special focus on connecting members of the US National Guard with American employers.

Today, we thought we'd share some information that explains our special interest in assisting National Guard members.

Statistics show that the unemployment rate for members of the National Guard is currently hovering around 20%, about twice the rate of all military veterans as a group.  This means that there are more than 60,000 unemployed National Guard members looking for jobs right now.

A compelling story from NPR explored the circumstances surrounding the 182nd Regiment of the Army National Guard as they returned home after a year-long deployment from Afghanistan.  Shockingly, a survey of the regiment's members as they prepared to return home showed that about one in three were unemployed or looking for work.

NPR cites the Army data noting that these so-called "citizen soldiers" have been mobilized more in the past decade than at any other time since the Korean War.  As a result, for these men and women, being in the National Guard has become a full-time job.  As they return from combat, however, these members of the National Guard are struggling to build or return to careers.  Returning National Guard members in particular have a hard time finding work because the nature of their service may require that they return to active duty again for a year or more.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the National Guard members are facing a crisis.  National Guard members, highlighted by the LA Times, often take on additional deployments because they cannot find civilian work, putting a strain on their health and the health of their families.

These heartbreaking tales of heroes who return to unemployment inspire the work of AJAH.

You can get involved by registering to post your open jobs on the Center for America website here.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"Reflections" on AJAH

We were thrilled when we saw the latest installment of "Reflections," a quarterly update written by Bill Weber, the president and CEO of The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals.

Bill Weber
President & CEO of APSP
A member of the American Jobs for America's Heroes Campaign Advisory Council, Bill generously dedicated his update on March 25, 2013 to AJAH's work.

Of the 358,000 current National Guard citizen-soldiers, Bill notes, 60,000+ of them are currently unemployed.  Bill says that a major challenge for National Guard members is transferring the skills they learned in the Guard to civilian employment.  In reality, Bill explains, the problem is not so much transferring as translating the skills because jobs are often classified quite differently in the military and the private sector.

Bill points out that National Guard members are a great fit for many civilian positions both because of their skills and also because of the other qualities they possess like integrity, leadership, and discipline.  In particular, Bill says many National Guard members would be excellent candidates for jobs in the pool and spa industry. And he would know!

Bill encourages employers to utilize the database and hands-on assistance offered by AJAH and its partners. Highlighting the services offered by AJAH, he concludes that participating as an employer is quite easy and efficient. 

We appreciate the support of Bill and APSP!

If you would like to join APSP in supporting the mission of AJAH, please visit the Center for America website and register to post jobs for heroes.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spotlight on Supporters - PMA and NTMA

At American Jobs for America's Heroes, our chief goal is to connect unemployed members of the US National Guard with American employers.  We are working toward this goal by providing job posting technology and so much more.

First, our state-of-the-art job posting technology system was donated by Kenexa, an IBM company.  This the the same software used by hundreds of Fortune 500 companies and government agencies.

In addition, our nonprofit alliance partners, Corporate America Supports You (CASY) and the Military Spouse Corporate Career Network (MSCCN) provide employment counselors to assist employers and military applicants and spouses to find the best matches.  CASY and MSCCN work closely with hundreds of state National Guard employment counselors across the country to match postings coming in through the campaign with unemployed National Guard members.

Still, no matter how dedicated we are to our mission of connecting National Guard members with employers and no matter how great our technology and support systems are, we would simply not be able to have success without the support of  the many associations, professional societies, and state chambers across the country who encourage their members to register and post their open jobs with us.

Each week on our blog, we'll shine a spotlight on some of the supporters who are helping our heroes by encouraging their members to post jobs.

This week, we're giving special recognition to the Precision Metalforming Association and the
National Tooling and Machining Association.

These two organizations, together known as "One Voice," have a combined federal government advocacy program designed to promote U.S. government policies that will ensure a strong manufacturing sector in the United States.  Together, they represent more than 3,000 companies with more than 500,000 employees and more then $157 billion - that's BILLION with a B - in annual sales.

Their joint website - www.metalworkingadvocate.org/front - now features AJAH on the homepage.

You can see a screen shot of site on the right side of your screen.  We are pleased that they decided to include links to the one-page PDF flyer for employers as well as to the registration page on the Center for America website.

More information about the two organizations follows.

You can join the members of  PMA and NTMA in posting jobs and hiring heroes by visiting www.centerforamerica.org/register.html

The Precision Metalforming Association is the full-service trade association representing the $113-billion metalforming industry of North America.  That's the industry that creates precision metal products using stamping, fabricating, spinning, slide forming and roll forming technologies, and other value-added processes. Its nearly 900 member companies also include suppliers of equipment, materials and services to the industry. PMA leads innovative member companies toward superior competitiveness and profitability through advocacy, networking, statistics, the PMA Educational Foundation, FABTECH and METALFORM tradeshows, and MetalForming and Fabricating Product News magazines.

The National Tooling and Machining Association is made up of 1400 member companies who design and manufacture special tools, dies, jigs, fixtures, gages, special machines and precision-machined parts.  Some firms specialize in experimental research and development work as well as rapid prototyping.  Many NTMA members are privately owned small businesses, yet the industry generates sales in excess of $40 billion a year.  NTMA’s mission is to help members of the U.S. precision custom manufacturing industry achieve business success in a global economy through advocacy, advice, networking, information, programs and services.