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    Houston-based brigade keeps focus on soldiers, families

    Houston-based brigade welcomes new commander

    Photo By Sgt. Suzanne Carter | In this image released by the Texas Military Forces, the 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Suzanne Carter 

    72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (36th ID, TXARNG)

    SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Leadership with the 72nd Infantry Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, gathered in the courtyard of the Alamo for a change of command ceremony as heavy clouds cast shadows on the participants, much like the prospect of unemployment has overshadowed many Guardsman's long-awaited return home of late.

    Appropriately, soldiers' employment ranked high among topics of discussion for the brigade's leadership as they attended the annual family readiness conference San Antonio, Texas, Sept. 16-18, 2011 held in conjunction with the change of command.
    This FRC continues the campaign Col. Mark Campsey, outgoing 72nd IBCT commander, ran to make family readiness a top priority, bringing military, Family Readiness Group and brigade leaders together to synchronize their training plans every year.

    Many state emergency response missions marked Campsey’s command, as well as one of the largest deployments the Texas National Guard has seen since World War II.

    In the fall of 2009, more than 3,000 72nd IBCT troops deployed out of Houston to locations throughout Iraq.

    Campsey worked diligently to meet the needs of those troops' families through FRG-specific training exercises focusing on how best to address situations that could arise before, during and after the deployment.

    "I think we've removed the separation between the FRG and the units," Campsey said. "We run an integrated brigade activity."

    As he passed the brigade standard to Col. Charles Aris Saturday morning, Aris echoed the necessity of maintaining this integrated standard of operation while the brigade relearns its basic Soldiering and technical skills.

    "I really think the key to any unit is if you can keep the families involved and help answer their concerns," Aris said. "It helps the whole unit run better."

    Aris plans to continue growing the FRG programs within the brigade, with a focus on finding Soldiers the right employment through the Job Connection Education Program.

    "The JCEP is a great program because it helps match people who are underemployed or unemployed with job positions," Aris said. "I just came back from Iraq last week, and a lot of the guys didn't have jobs to come back to. So they were really worried. It causes amazing amounts of stress."

    The 72nd IBCT hosts this accessible and valuable tool within the brigade's armory in west Houston. A recent National Guard initiative, JCEP provides Guard and Reserve service members and their spouses resume assistance, interview skills development, higher education opportunities and job matching services.

    "Prior to coming back, I polled my soldiers," Campsey said about the brigade's return to Texas in 2010. "I had 300 in my location. Almost 70 soldiers coming back from Iraq said: 'I'm unemployed or underemployed, and I'm concerned.’”

    The pressing nature of unemployment "hampers your ability to take a career development perspective of 'Where do I want to go,'" said Jay Rudolph, JCEP training and development specialist, on how job search becomes your temporary job. "We have a lot of things to do to help leverage and raise the bar for them to become better job seekers, but it's a lot of intense work."

    Soldiers faced with mounting bills and insufficient means to pay them can rely on JCEP to highlight the advantages of hiring service members to employers, seeking to match employers' needs with soldiers' education and skills acquired through military training and experience.

    Finding employment for soldiers comes with challenges that extend beyond those of the typical job seeker in a difficult market, but Aris said that making connections with local businesses and communities could bridge that gap.

    "People don't understand the Guard story, don't understand how many people are serving in their communities and what we've done," he said. "So, I think the more we can get out and tell all our stories to the community, the more employers will know that we're available.”



    Date Taken: 09.17.2011
    Date Posted: 09.21.2011 19:41
    Story ID: 77389
    Location: SAN ANTONIO, TX, US

    Web Views: 202
    Downloads: 2