American Jobs for American Heroes (AJAH): Helping National Guard and Veterans land employment and improve lives
Virginia PolitiChick Jenny Kefauver interviews Brigadier General (Ret) Marianne E. Watson, Former Director, Manpower and Personnel, Joint Staff, National Guard Bureau; Vice Chair, Campaign Advisory Council American Jobs for America’s Heroes
JK: Unemployment among National Guard and veterans is significantly higher than the overall national employment figures. How American Jobs for America’s Heroes (AJAH) can help improve that number?
Brigadier Gen. Watson: When I was Director of Manpower and Personnel at the National Guard Bureau, building bridges with the business community to increase Guard employment was a top priority and it still is for my successor. American Jobs for America’s Heroes is directly involved in supporting the Army National Guard’s efforts in every state to make it easy for employers to recruit Guard members and veterans.
AJAH is one of many campaigns across the nation involved in helping Guard members, veterans, and their spouses to find jobs. What’s unique about AJAH is that the National Guard Employment Network, combined with non-profit partners at Corporate America Supports You (CASY) and Military Spouse Corporate Career Network (MSCCN), work directly with both employers and job applicants to help make the right employment match.
The effort being put into job placement is handled with compassion and efficiency, particularly for spouses and military women, who comprise about 15% of the Army National Guard and about 20% of the Air Force National Guard. All of the CASY-MSCCN placement personnel are veterans themselves or spouses of current or retired military, so they know personally how important it is to support the men and women of the military and their spouses, who are a remarkably enterprising and courageous women and men.
JK: Can you summarize for me what the primary mission of AJAH?
Brigadier Gen. Watson: AJAH’s top priority is to help more employers realize how easy it is for them to have their openings put in the hands of Guard employment counselors across the country who will actively help to find matches to fill their jobs, and at no cost.
For employers, it takes five minutes to register on the website. Then, employers benefit from a team of dedicated recruiters working with hundreds of military counselors in all the branches of service, focused on finding the best matches for their positions. The counselors are working one on one with thousands of military candidates to match them with jobs.
JK: Say I am the CEO of a company, and I am looking for employees to fill jobs right away. Why should I contact AJAH when there are scores of other job banks around with qualified candidates?
Brigadier Gen. Watson: AJAH is a unique service that goes well beyond a jobs board or a jobs fair. AJAH is like having a recruiting team that many smaller employers don’t have in place. More applicants are connected with the right employers and result in long-term employment. The National Guard Employment Network and the non-profits serving as employment counselors have the expertise to properly translate military service and skills into civilian language to help employers understand how an applicant will fit into their business.
JK: Please share with me a little bit about your military background, as I understand that you have been deployed during your time of service.
Brigadier Gen. Watson: I deployed in 2008 with a team of 8 soldiers serving in the National Guard Affairs Office. I was there for about 7 months, working under Major General Schloesser, 101st Airborne Division Commander. At the time, there were about 65,000 National Guard members in country. Back in the U.S., I served as the Director, Manpower and Personnel, Joint Staff, National Guard Bureau until my retirement in 2013.
JK: Lastly, please explain what the “continual learning ethic” is in the National Guard, and how that leads to quality employees being placed in quality companies.
Brigadier Gen. Watson: It’s a top priority for the National Guard to ensure Guard members are receiving training in multiple disciplines over the entire course of their time in service. The Guard invests hundreds of thousands of dollars in this training which is an advantage most civilians don’t receive. Every Guard member gains technical and professional skills that help the Guard and their civilian employers.
The men and women of the National Guard are quality people who operate in an environment where character counts; their lives depend on it. They have the traits employers look for: integrity, leadership, discipline, commitment to service, loyalty and teamwork, and, no tolerance for drugs. In the National Guard there are 107 different job types, many of which correspond directly to civilian jobs.
Employers will gain talented employees with character and discipline who are ready to help build the business. It’s a win-win for employers, Guard members, veterans and their spouses. What better way to transition from military service to productive and stable civilian life than with a good job and a vibrant career.
You can watch a five-minute AJAH video featuring Brig. Gen. (ret) Marianne Watson here: http://www.CenterForAmerica.org/video.html