Keep Your Guard Up initiative finds work for returning serviceme - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Keep Your Guard Up initiative finds work for returning servicemen

by Jolene Toves

Guam - The Guam National Guard is laying the groundwork to ensure that when our island's soldiers return from deployment in Afghanistan they'll be able to gain employment.

Close to 600 soldiers from the Guam National Guard were deployed earlier this year and are expected to return home to their families and jobs early next year. But not all of those deployed will be returning to a job. Lieutenant Colonnel Robert Crisostomo told KUAM News, "If we don't do anything about this we have about 300 soldiers coming back to Guam not having a job to go back to and that could create a retention problem for the National Guard."

To deal with this, the Keep Your Guard Up campaign was created in an effort to provide services, training and programs. "This initiative looks at the skills that's driving the job market today and e put a survey out to Afghanistan with the current soldiers in Afghanistan and we asked them what skills or interests they would like to pursue when they come back," said Crisostomo.

The National Guard is partnering up with the GCA Trades Academy, the government and the private sector to assist all national guardsmen in gaining employment. "As you know, with the current shutdown we had to release 185 soldiers furlough or just release them because of funding issues when we released them out in the cold not having a job to go back to," he added.

Since the government partially reopened, 85 of those soldiers were not called back. So as part of the initiative there is a new requirement for soldiers placed on ADOS or temporary assignment.

In the past soldiers relied heavily on ADOS as a primary source of income and once those orders were over soldiers were left with debt they no longer could afford. "So now the initiative and with the concurrence of Major General [Benny] Paulino in order to come on ADOS you have to have employment so that if we cut you off in January again you have a job to go back to and its protected under USEARA," said the lieutenant colonel.

Crisostomo adds that once a soldier has secured a civilian job there is a six-month period that must pass before the soldier can be placed on temporary orders. "We don't want disgruntled employers out there that think that the soldiers can come in anytime they want. ADOS is dependent on the employer releasing the soldier the National Guard is trying to spread the ADO opportunity around" he said.

We should note that the Keep Your Guard Up campaign will not initialize until the deployed return meanwhile the ADOS requirement is in effect.

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