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Red Bulls: Combating unemployment

Spc. Jeremy Gravdahl, from Bemidji, Minn., constructs a deck at Camp Army Life S1 / 2
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ARMY LIFE SUPPORT AREA, Kuwait - It’s no secret the veteran unemployment rates is higher than the national average. The unemployment rate of the 134th Brigade Support Battalion is near 30 percent. The issue is not the soldier themselves. Often a soldier is not called back for a job he or she applied for because their resume did not translate.

“From my viewpoint we have not done a good enough job of telling our story and what skills we have as they translate to civilian employment,” said Headquarters and Headquarters Company Commander, Capt. Jason Huedepohl, from Chaska, Minn. “The hard skills are usually pretty apparent but we need to do a better job identifying and teaching our soldiers what those soft skills are and how they apply in the civilian sector."

Now that the drawdown is over, commanders like Huedepohl are able to address the next steps for the members of his company.

“Each soldier has a different story when it comes to why they are unemployed but it comes back to what we can do as a family and teach them how to prepare themselves for a challenging employment market.”

Preparing for employment involves translating military experiences into civilian equivalent, preparing for the job interview and how to find jobs to apply for that match their skill set.

“We are starting with the basics of resume and cover letter writing to give them a base that allows them to put into words their hard and soft skills as well as their previous accomplishments,” said Huedepohl. “We are also going to focus on career path identification and personality traits and then transition into interview skills and online job seeking and networking."

Taking the time now for soldiers to develop their products and creating a strategy while their minds are clear and not clouded by the newness of going home is critical to success.

Huedepohl continues, “If we can establish a solid foundation of basic skills and show them the available resources we can help make them more successful when the current support system is not directly involved. They will be able to take the products and knowledge they have learned and adjust or modify it in a way that fits a specific position or job they are interested in.”

Huedepohl is deployed with the 134th Brigade Support Battalion, 1/34 Heavy Brigade Support Battalion to Camp Virginia, Kuwait. He is expected to return early summer 2012.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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