RALEIGH, N.C. – Out of work Guard service members in North Carolina now have a helping hand in finding a job thanks to the recently opened North Carolina National Guard Education and Employment Center at Joint Force Headquarters in Raleigh, N.C.
The center, which started in June, has eight full-time employees dedicated to teaching service members and their families how to get the most out of their education benefits and also help connect them with potential employers.
Army Capt. Sara Day, deputy director of the Education and Employment Center, has high hopes for the new operation.
“Our goal for this office is to be a one-stop-shop to successfully further our Guardsmen and women’s careers,” Day said. “Whether that be finding them a job now so they can feed their family or assisting them in obtaining their education benefits so they can further their career.”
Case managers in the center network with local businesses to find job openings, help service members with their resumes, prep them for interviews and teach them how to translate their military skills into language civilian employers will understand.
“We have to learn how to bring an infantryman in here who thinks all he did was kick down doors and teach him that his skills as a team leader or platoon sergeant translates to management in the civilian world,” Day said. “We teach soldiers what language to use when talking about their skills to future employers.”
The soldiers working in the center treat finding jobs and helping facilitate interviews as little victories.
“Sgt. 1st Class James Hartley, with the Recruiting and Retention Battalion, sent information from a contact at Sam’s Club to the Employment and Education Center,” said Sgt. Eric Burgos, a case manager who works in the Employment and Education Center. “I called and spoke with the Membership Manager and discussed the needs and expectations of potential candidates we could provide Sam’s Club. She went as far as to give me her personal cell phone number and asked that I contact her immediately when a North Carolina National Guard soldier applies with Sam’s Club. That speaks volumes on how military friendly she is as well as Sam’s Club as an organization.”
Burgos shared a moment of success by high-fiving Day after getting off the phone with the potential employer. He said he feels thankful to be able to provide service members, who desperately need it, to find work by linking them up with these military friendly employers.
“It is a great feeling to know that companies are out there that are truly military friendly and don’t just use that term as a marketing tool,” said Burgos.
Day said helping out fellow soldiers makes the job more fulfilling.
“It always feels good to help out another person,” Day said. “But, when it is a soldier, it is like helping out a member of your family. We care about each other in the North Carolina National Guard; we are a family.”
Day said it is important that service members know they have someone to talk to without feeling embarrassed about their situation and that most of the case managers understand what they are going through.
“I’m not ashamed to say I was one week away from not being able to make my mortgage payment before I got this job,” Day said. “I want soldiers to know that anyone and everyone, regardless of what rank they are, go through the same struggles. They are not failures and they are not alone. I felt alone and it would have helped greatly to know that this center exists. I remember feeling like I wanted anyone to throw me a lifeline when I thought I was not going to find a job. I hope that we are that lifeline for the soldier.”
The North Carolina National Guard Employment and Education Center can be reached at (919) 664-6463 and is open Monday through Friday.