Northwest soldiers out of the war, into the job market

Oct 31, 2011

A wave of returning National Guard soldiers from Oregon and Idaho is coming face to face with the Northwest's lack-luster job market. The 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team returned from Iraq in September.

After a month of post-deployment vacation, the troops are starting to return to the civilian workforce.

About 2,500 soldiers from Oregon, Idaho and Montana make up the unit. Roughly a third of these returning Northwest reservists are unemployed, according to a survey.

Federal rules require employers to hold the jobs of National Guard soldiers for them while they're deployed. But Gerald Steele with the Idaho Guard says that doesn't stop some jobs from disappearing …

“A lot of businesses have closed. And a fair amount of these soldiers – when they left they had a job – and they've come back to a company that's no longer there,” Steele said.

Of course, he says, many returning soldiers joined the National Guard right out of high school and may be looking for their first full-time job outside a combat zone. All three states offer workshops on writing resumes and interviewing to help soldiers compete in the civilian job market.

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network