Red Bulls Project to put MN Vets to Work

Updated: 11/10/2012 3:13 PM KSTP.com By: Nick Winkler

The National Guard is partnering with big business to put soldiers to work.

Service members returning from war often have an unemployment rate double that of the civilian population. Last spring, 19-percent of the Red Bulls set to return to Minnesota were facing unemployment.

However, an effort headed by National Guard Cpt. Ron Jarvi Jr. reduced the rate dramatically. Rather than wait for soldiers to return to begin employment counseling, Project Red Bull was highly proactive.

120 days prior to the date the date the 526 soldiers were to return, the National Guard partnered with big businesses like US Bank, Target, and Best Buy to offer services to soldiers. The team critiqued soldier resumes and engaged in mock job interviews.

Simultaneously, the state, area colleges, the VA, and others partnered with businesses back home to create opportunities for returning soldiers.

The results have exceeded expectations. Most of the 526 Red Bulls involved have found work. The 19-percent unemployment rate for the wider group was reduced to less than 5-percent.

There's no money to continue the program. But Cpt. Jarvi and others plan to create a virtual version of the plan so veterans can begin the job hunt months before returning home.