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First lady announces military job initiative

POSTED: April 9, 2012 10:20 a.m.

First Lady Michelle Obama announced Wednesday a new component of the Joining Forces initiative that aims to provide 15,000 jobs to military spouses and veterans by 2014.
During a media conference call, Joining Forces Executive Director Capt. Brad Cooper said the overall initiative is to recognize, honor and support veterans, service members and their families.
“Today, 11 companies are coming together to pledge more than 15,000 jobs for military spouses,” Obama said. “And the vast majority of these jobs are ones that the spouses can do at home from anywhere in the country.”
The bulk of the jobs are in customer service, health care and telecommunications, with varying advancement opportunities, Cooper said. The jobs range from entry-level to management.
“We’re trying to meet these spouses where they are …,” Obama said. “Whatever comes up in life along the way, these types of jobs will help give them the kind of flexibility and portability they’ll need to succeed not just in their careers, but in the rest of their lives as well.”
The job opportunities will be integrated with the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, or MSEP, a Department of Defense-led effort launched last summer with more than 100 private-sector companies.
Locally, companies have engaged in a similar effort: soliciting jobs through the Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces.
In October, Georgia Army Reserve Ambassador Luis Carreras met with industrial leaders on several occasions to educate them about the military-related workforce and using the EPAF to find them.
Firth Rixson Forgings, Target, the city of Midway and SNF Holding Company now are among the companies with a Liberty County presence listed as partners on the site.
While he is still recruiting for the EPAF, Carreras said that the DoD is consolidating all of the partnerships and databases into one to expand the reach for each individual and partner company. It will operate under the name Hero 2 Hired and will be integrated into transition training, though Carreras said there is no confirmed date for the merge.
“They’re taken out of the mainstream, so it’s important to bring them back,” he said about the need to provide jobs for spouses and veterans. “They have to have a door, which the average person living in the community already has, because they’ve been living there.”
While logistics are frequent moves are barriers to employment opportunities, Carreras said job candidates also need to be willing to take less-senior positions than their current or former roles.
“You start somewhere in the company, and then they see and appreciate what you’ve got, and then you start moving up,” he said.
One conference-call participant questioned whether call-center jobs would be a hard sell for military spouses.
“Every indication that we’ve received is that this is right up the alley of where spouses want to work,” Cooper said. “As the first lady said, it gives spouses portability and in so many cases it allows them to retain that crucial component of seniority, flexibility that you just wouldn’t be able to do if you’re moving from Norfolk, Va., to San Diego, Calif.”

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