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04-05-06, 05:48 AM #1
Program helps Marines, employers find each other
Wednesday, April 5, 2006
Program helps Marines, employers find each other
By Caroline Lynch Pieroni
Louisville native Cpl. Brendon Frcka returned from Iraq in May 2005 not quite sure how to restart his life as a civilian.
At first, he did odd jobs for his family while trying to figure out what kind of work to look for. When he started looking last fall, he couldn't find the right fit.
"You're not at home and you're not in your comfort zone, and then you've got to switch back all of the sudden and that's hard," he said.
Frcka, 23, recently found a full-time job as a driver for Schwan's Food Service. He landed it with help from the Marine For Life program, which assists Marines transitioning back to civilian life.
A mentor in the program suggested to Frcka that the job might be a good fit. It was.
Frcka liked the pay and benefits and felt comfortable with the work because he drove large trucks in the military. He said he hopes to make it a career.
Marine For Life, started in 2002, is gaining traction nationwide and trickling into the Louisville area, mainly because of efforts to promote the program to the approximately 27,000 Marines discharged each year.
It helps Marines and those sailors who work with them network with employers and other job seekers through events and a Web site. They also connect with mentors who help with resumes or teach them to market their military skills, and the program also helps injured Marines.
Military officials said returning to civilian life can be challenging for many reasons. Often Marines have just moved back to a place after being away for years, or have relocated somewhere they've never lived. Plus they've left their jobs and the structured lifestyle of the military.
"Imagine being gone for 10 years, not working in the community, not meeting people," said Sgt. Gilbert Stubbs, who oversees the program in Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina. "This helps our Marines have more success in life."
Stubbs said the program helps Marines of all ages and educational backgrounds, from men and women who served four years straight out of high school to colonels and other officers.
About 375 Marines either looking for work or planning to within six months are registered through the Louisville Metro Marine For Life program. On the Web site, www.M4L.usmc.mil, Marines can register, post their resumes and request notices of jobs that match their profile.
Employers interested in recruiting Marines also can sign up and post for free. About a dozen local companies are involved.
Other branches of the military, including the Army, have programs that help ease the transition to civilian life. The Army Career and Alumni program includes a job-search Web site and coaching.
Sgt. Christopher Milton, who ended his four-year Marine stint in February, said the program is useful to him, partly because he's coming to a place he's never lived.
Milton, 25, is from Cleveland but came to Louisville because his wife is in school here. So far he's been told he's either overqualified or not qualified for the positions he's sought.
"I've gotten offers more in Cleveland than here, but right now it's hard for me to move," he said.
Milton said he's getting daily e-mail alerts about jobs from the Marine For Life site, based on a profile he set up to indicate what sort of job he would be interested in. It can't work out soon enough, Milton said.
"It gets hard sitting in the house knowing you can do a job, but you don't have one," he said.
The transition has been somewhat easier for Cpl. David Bassler, a 23-year-old Louisville native who came home to many of the same friends and contacts he left when he joined the Marines four years ago.
The program is just one of many tools he used in his job hunt. He's in the process of joining the Louisville Metro Police and is hoping to be in the May class of new hires.
He said his training in the military dovetails nicely with what he would do as a police officer, and it also gives him the same personal satisfaction.
"I have to do some kind of public service and make a difference and accomplish something," he said.
Capt. Mark Hall, a reservist who is the local administrator of the program, said he believes it offers an attractive work force.
Marines "are trained to be leaders," he said. "They understand about being able to be assigned a task and completing a task.
"I would love to have a platoon of Marines working for me every day, from what I know about Marines and the seriousness of which they undertake their job."
Local companies that have signed up to support the program and post jobs include UPS, Kroger, Moore Security, Kentucky Concrete and the Louisville police department. The employers can create profiles that include job postings or alerts when candidates with the proper skills sign up.
Some businesses see program participation as a way to support military service.
Phil Watson, manager of Human Resources Development for Kroger's mid-south region, said he plans to start posting jobs on the Marine For Life site after hearing about the program from Hall.
Kroger employs about 4,000 people in the Louisville area and is hiring for many positions.
"We think it's a fantastic way to give back those who have given to us," Watson said.
Pat O'Leary of UPS has spent more than a decade recruiting and hiring. The former Marine said military experience can make a candidate more attractive.
"I know they're no stranger to hard work, discipline or getting things done," he said, adding that they also likely have leadership experience.
O'Leary called the Marine For Life program "a great opportunity to get some quality people practically dropped in your lap."
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
ONE PROUD MARINE
Once a Marine...Always a Marine
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