Military Friendly Employers: More Than 3,000 Nominated

The silhouettes of Soldiers from the Florida Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation Regiment, stand out against the open hangar door of the Aviation Support Facility, Aug. 29, 2011. Photo by Master Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa.

Each year, the Defense Department asks for nominations of employers who provide “outstanding support” for the National Guardsmen and Reservists who work for them.

The nomination process is 12 weeks long when members of the Guard and Reserve and their families can nominate civilian employers for the Department of Defense recognition known as the Freedom Award.

This year, 3,236 nominations were received for the 2012 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the department’s highest recognition.

The officials from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a DoD agency, will name the award recipients this summer. As many as 15 employers could be recognized nationally at the ESGR ceremony set Sept. 20, 2012 in Washington D.C.

Award winners from 2011 did more than support military employees and their families, according to an ESGR press release, the employers provided help such as driving a deployed employee’s children to school, replacing a deployed employee’s broken refrigerator, and working overtime to cover shifts so a service member employee could take part in military training.

Semifinalists for the 2012 Freedom Award will be announced in April according to the news release.

Military Dogs Breeding Program Turns Puppies into Troops

Bernadine Green, deputy director for the Defense Department's Military Working Dog Breeding Program, cuddles with a puppy. DOD photo by Linda Hosek

Nothing warms a heart quicker than a cuddly puppy. At Lackland Air Force Base, those cute bundles of fur are being trained to become the military working dogs of the future.

Armed Forces Press Service reporter Elaine Sanchez has a full story on the program. You’ll also find several adorable photos of the puppies and dogs in training.

The Defense Department’s Military Working Dog Breeding Program breeds, trains and raises Belgian Malinois to serve alongside other military working dogs. The program has three  stages: whelping, foster family care and then adolescent training. At 12 months old, the dogs are evaluated for entry into the military working dog program.

Trainers look for characteristics such as an inquisitive nature, eagerness to play and socialize, not afraid of noises and not overly aggressive.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Russell Minta, senior non-commissioned officer for the Defense Department's Military Working Dog Breeding Program on Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, plays with a puppy. The program provides working dogs to every service branch and numbers among the largest military breeding programs in the world. DOD photo by Linda Hosek

A non-profit organization, K-9s for Veterans, is based in Tampa, Florida and recently received a remodeling thanks to The Mission Continues and Home Depot.

A Job Board, Employment Opportunities for Military Spouses

Staff Sgt. John Carlin walks off the flightline with his family May 13, 2001, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Sergeant Carlin is assigned to the 61st Airlift Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Chris Willis)

Unemployment is high among recently returned combat veterans, it’s also an ongoing problem for military spouses. A military family is used to routine moves or PCS (Permanent Change of Station) every few years, it’s different for a potential employer looking for a permanent worker.

But, job hunting for military spouses may get a little easier thanks to a new partnership between the Department of Defense and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced this week.

The Military Spouse Employment Partnership includes more than 70 employers who have committed improving military spouse employment. Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, helped launch the new partnership this week while recognizing military spouses for their service and sacrifice as they manage family, work and community service many times in the middle of a spouse’s deployment.

Some statistics from OurMilitary.mil:

  • 95% of the 1.2 million military spouses are women.
  • 85% of military spouses either want or need employment currently, and there is a 26% unemployment rate among them (1 in 4 spouses are without work).
  • There are 750,000 Active duty spouses – over half are under 31 years old.
  • 84% of spouses overall have some college, including a Bachelor’s degree (25%) and a post-graduate/advanced degree (10%).
  • Military spouses are also special because of their frequency of relocation – military families move 14% more often than their civilian counterparts.

A Job Board is available online for military spouses looking for work. There’s also a section for potential employers.

Learning from a Virtual PTSD Experience

My thanks to SMSgt. Rex Temple for sharing this information. After returning from a year in Afghanistan April 2010, he has spent time helping teammates with PTSD work through the symptoms – informal peer-to-peer help can be powerful. Using a virtual experience is also proving promising.

The Department of Defense has launched a website, “Virtual PTSD Experience”, that will allow users to explore the causes and symptoms of post-traumatic stress in an anonymous setting on the Second Life virtual world platform. Second Life provides T2 a limitless space on the Internet where service members can learn more about PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) causes, symptoms and resources for information and care. Visitors enter the Virtual PTSD Experience space through the Second Life website, which can be accessed for free.

For more information, visit the Virtual PTSD Experience website.

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