News: CSM takes job plan to soldiers
By: Staff Sgt. Pat Caldwell
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — The moment more than 25 years of work experience flashed across Command Sgt. Maj. Bill Wyllie’s face it became evident as he stood in front of a group of soldiers at Joint Base Balad.
The soldiers with 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) were on hand for a specific reason: to learn how to find jobs after deployment. Wyllie was present to help them navigate through the often complex process toward employment.
Wyllie tossed out questions and sought answers as he occasionally turned back to the PowerPoint presentation on the screen behind him in the conference room of the 3rd Battalion headquarters building.
The moment when the expression changed on Wyllie’s face articulated an array of different scenes that burned in the memory of the John Day, Ore., native.
There was heartbreak triumph, grit and confidence. Confidence, because, deep down, Wyllie knows about running a business. He understands about applying for a job when the employment picture is cloudy. He knows about hiring people. But most of all, he knows about the men and women who make up his battalion.
“You work long hours, you show up on time, you guys have impressed me,” Wyllie told the soldiers.
The briefing on employment was just one in a series of job seminars Wyllie is now offering throughout the battalion. For Wyllie, the mission is simple: to get his soldiers thinking about the future. His multi-pronged employment plan boils down to tailoring resumes, identifying the unique skills of a particular soldier, fashioning letters of recommendation and applying for a job. And apply. And apply.
“Plan now for success,” said Wyllie. “Turn in applications in July and continue until you have a job. Or apply for college. Now.”
Wyllie would be the first to admit his mission to help soldiers find employment is not going to be easy. While the 3rd Battalion draws its soldiers from across many western states, the core group of the unit resides in Oregon. Now, Oregon is battling a high unemployment rate and its rural counties, where many of the Oregon soldiers reside, face an even starker unemployment picture.
Wyllie, though, said he isn’t going to get caught up in the negative aspects of the unemployment picture. He sees his task as simple: Identify the challenge then find ways to overcome it. One way to overcome it is through his job seminars. During his recent seminar, Wyllie stressed preparation and determination.
“When you do your resumes, make sure you capture your military skills,” he said. “And remember networking. That is huge. A lot of jobs are received because of something said about someone else. Employers want to help veterans. They want people with integrity. They want people like you.”
The job plan is crucial for the future of unemployed 3rd Battalion soldiers, and the plan traces its origins to brainstorming sessions between Wyllie and the commander of the battalion, Lt. Col. Phil Appleton. Both men recognized the battalion had a lot of soldiers who were unemployed before the unit deployed to Iraq.
Another critical element to Appleton and Wyllie’s plan rests not on them, but on the soldiers. Wyllie, who manages a grocery store in civilian life back in Oregon, said he can provide the tools and present the information, but at the end of the day, the NCOs and soldiers have to do the leg work.
“I need every one of you to help your soldiers,” Wyllie told the NCOs at the job seminar.
That theme of NCOs stepping up to help the lower enlisted ranks find employment is a constant one throughout all of Wyllie’s job seminars across the battalion. But the soldiers play a crucial part in the process as well.
“I’m giving you guys the start,” he said. “But I need you guys to help. It is on you guys. I can’t do it for you.”
Doing their part, Wyllie said, means soldiers must be proactive by using the tools available. Wyllie showed them where to look for jobs on the Internet and a host of other resources valuable to the prospective job-seeker. Through it all, Wyllie’s message was clear: Get going now on finding a job.