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‘Guard members best pick for employers,’ say state officials

Various employers of National Guard members pose for a photo at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Mo., Oct. 18, 2012. The employers received a flight in a C-130 “Hercules” cargo aircraft and an orientation about the mission of the 139th Airlift Wing. (Missouri Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Crane)

Various employers of National Guard members pose for a photo at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Mo., Oct. 18, 2012. The employers received a flight in a C-130 “Hercules” cargo aircraft and an orientation about the mission of the 139th Airlift Wing. (Missouri Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Crane)

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- An advocate for hiring veterans told Missouri employers here Oct. 18 that they have top candidates in the National Guard looking for work through state veteran offices.

"Your Missouri National Guard men and women as well as Missouri veterans from all services are the star employees you seek," said Army Lt. Col. Alan Rohlfing, Missouri National Guard.

Rohlfing visited the 139th Airlift Wing in St. Joseph, Mo., where he thanked about 30 civic leaders and area employers for their support and noted the progress in putting unemployed reservists and veterans to work.

The colonel works in partnership with the Missouri Division of Work Force Development as director of the state's "Show-Me Heroes" program.

To date, more than 2,500 employers pledged support through Show-Me Heroes. More than 3,700 service members and veterans were hired.

Announced by Gov. Jay Nixon in 2010, Show-Me Heroes provides Missouri veterans with increased employment opportunities, whether they return home from active service or are traditional reservists between careers.

Rohlfing told the group that the program also recognizes those employers who consider veterans for job openings.

"We appreciate the support that you give our men and women in uniform," said Rohlfing. "And they appreciate, very much, the opportunities you provide."

The group was at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base for a Civic Leader Day, which included a C-130 aircraft flight, demonstrations by citizen-Airmen as well as presentations.

Service members are a small percentage of the nation's population, and many Missouri employers simply have no experience with those in uniform, said Rohlfing. That's where Show-Me Heroes steps in.

"What we try to do is get them to think about the value that military experience brings to the civilian workforce and consider that for their hiring," he said.

Show-Me Heroes is managed by veterans' representatives throughout the state. The program helps employers establish relationships with their offices.

The program also teaches job seekers how to present themselves as top candidates for jobs.

"It's not a job board, rather it's a place where we direct our job seekers to employers who support them and their military experience," said Rohlfing.
"Employers do not have to have open jobs to participate in the program."

For service members and veterans, job opportunities are coordinated through the state's job web site - jobs.mo.gov - and a variety of Missouri job fairs and workshops.

The program asks employers to simply pledge their support by considering them for job openings.

Employers who pledge support may receive a "Flag of Freedom" award, which presents an Army uniform, U.S. flag patch worn overseas by a Missouri Guard member.

"But it's not about how many employers took the pledge; it's more about how many veterans find employment," said Rohlfing.

Interested employers can join the program online at www.showmeheroes.mo.gov. They are presented a pledge certificate and gain a valuable working relationship with organizers in finding skilled, qualified veterans.

"We want to be the employers' link to Missouri's military talent," said Rohlfing.