Program targets employment for guard, reserve soldiers

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

There have been many news articles published lately about two issues that are near to our hearts.

These issues are unemployment rates among veterans and reserve component members and the welfare of our military families.

The first issue obviously has a direct effect on the second. However, what you may not have heard about in these articles is the innovative program that is making a difference – one soldier, one family at a time.

The program is the Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces.

The Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces (EPAF) represents the next generation of the Employer Partnership Initiative (EPI) program created in 2008 by the Army Reserve chief, Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, who expanded the program last year to help members of all seven reserve components, their family members and veterans.

EPAF is able to provide our entire "Military Family" with a connection to career opportunities while also giving civilian employers access to a pool of highly capable potential employees. Simply put, the program is a venue where capability and opportunity meet.

The program provides opportunity through its more than 1,500 signed employer partners – each of whom has expressed a desire to hire from the ranks. EPAF’s employer partners not only include large national firms such as General Electric, Boeing, Amazon, Microsoft and Wal-Mart, but also many smaller firms as well as local, state, and federal agencies.


EPAF’s partners are military-friendly

They recognize the capability that reservists, National Guardsmen and veterans bring to the workplace. Employer partners know that EPAF offers trained, skilled and experienced candidates. These employers also fully appreciate the work ethic, leadership abilities, values and professionalism they are able to readily access through the EPAF program.

With EPAF’s partnerships and other strategic alliances, 700,000 positions are available daily through its state-of-the-art career portal: www.EmployerPartnership.org.

Opportunities of all types from every industry may be found there. These include nearly 90 percent of our nation’s Fortune 500 companies. Job seekers, including family members, may even find internships, part-time and summer jobs through the portal as well.

EPAF is also working with several corporations to develop leadership training programs, certification recognition of already obtained skills and credit for experience to be applied toward pay and benefits.

The Employer Partnership portal’s robust search functionality allows job seekers to find the career opportunities in which they are most interested. And, once a seeker has built their resume in the portal, a good career opportunity may also find him or her because employer partners can also search the system directly for candidates.

In this way the Employer Partnership is like a Monster.com for the military. However, EPAF goes even further.

The Employer Partnership program is specifically tailored for the military community. It gives our service members access to EPAF’s military-friendly partners; the portal’s resume builder provides a military occupation translator and menus for entering military experience; and, also, EPAF’s entire support staff has military experience.

But the biggest reason EPAF stands apart from being merely an on-line job search is its Program Support Managers (PSMs).

The PSMs are geographically dispersed across the U.S. to provide personalized assistance. All of the PSMs have military and civilian sector experience. The relationships they build with the hiring managers of the program’s Employer Partners allows the PSMs to render direct, one-on-one assistance to both Service members and employers in matching capabilities with opportunities.

Making a difference for our soldiers

In December, Army veteran, retired Sgt. 1st Class Chris Orr was unexpectedly laid off from a management position with his civilian employer. He had heard about the EPAF program so he thought he’d give it a shot.

In addition to building his resume in EPAF’s career portal, Orr reached out to his PSM, Ken Forchielli.

"Ken took the time to review my resume and suggest positions for which I should apply. One of those was a national accounts portfolio manager position for Allied Barton Security Services," Orr said. "Ken used his experience and his contacts with his EPAF partners, reaching out to Allied Barton senior management to recommend me as a candidate."

Although the selection process for this position was lengthy, Forchielli provided Orr with encouragement, advice and counseling along the way. In March it paid off. Orr was officially offered the position.

"I can’t say enough about the importance and usefulness of the EPAF program to veterans and transitioning military personnel. Quite simply, it is the very best option available."

A human capital strategy

The EPAF program not only helps our veterans and military families, but it also is a part of the human capital strategy of the Army Reserve and the Continuum of Service construct of the reserve components.

For example, if a soldier feels they need a break from the active component, for family or other personal reasons, the Army Reserve is able to offer career opportunities.

"We can ask that soldier: ‘Where do you want to live?" Stultz said. "We can then say I’ve got a reserve position for you in that area, and we also have an employer partner there that’s looking for people with your skill-set."

Adding, "The soldier is able to continue to serve and earn a reserve retirement down the road; the Army does not lose its prior human capital investment; and our employer partners gain a trained employee who they know they can count on."

In this way the EPAF program presents a win-win-win situation. Through EPAF the military is able to take care of its people while helping it to retain and grow future leaders.

The program also has the potential to have an impact on unemployment rates among RC members and veterans.

Lastly, it helps build a skilled workforce for America. Investing in service members and our military families is the right thing to do.

And, it truly is a positive investment for America.