Our soldiers deserve to come home to a job
The following appeared in the June 23rd Oregonian
By Ron Wyden and Raymond Rees
This spring, nearly 3,000 members of the Oregon National Guard's 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team returned home from an eight-month deployment in Iraq. By all accounts it was a successful mission in which our citizen soldiers made all Oregonians proud.
Unfortunately, more than 50 percent of these soldiers did not have a job to come home to. In a matter of days, these soldiers went from the dust and danger of combat in a foreign land to the uncertainty of civilian life at home.
Never before in our nation's history has the American military relied more on the National Guard than it does today. National Guard troops from Oregon and other states serve side by side with members of the regular Army. Some National Guard troops have served three or four deployments in Iraq, and in all likelihood many will serve more in the future. Unlike the regular Army, however, most members of the National Guard go off active duty almost immediately after returning home.
These soldiers did something for us. Now it's our turn to do something for them. Slowly but surely the Oregon economy is recovering. We need to make sure that these soldiers are part of that recovery. Over the next few weeks, Oregon employers have an opportunity to give these returning soldiers and their families consideration when filling open positions.
This summer, we have come together to sponsor a series of job fairs across the state. These job fairs are designed to do one thing: bring Oregon employers and members of the National Guard together to match up those who have jobs with those who need jobs.
The first "Yellow Ribbon Career and Benefits Fair" will be held Saturday at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City. Other fairs will be held in Redmond on July 10, Central Point on July 11 and Eugene/Springfield on Aug. 7.
It's important that all Oregon employers who have or anticipate having jobs to fill and who are looking for good employees attend one or more of these job fairs. It's the best opportunity we have to make sure our Guard members and their families get the job opportunities and other benefits they deserve as full members of the American military.
Over the last few weeks, we've reached out to employers across the state to make them aware of these job fairs and urge them to attend and meet these soldiers face to face. The response has been gratifying. The employers whom we have talked to are eager to do what they can to support these heroes.
Nevertheless, there is always room for more.
Ron Wyden, a Democrat, represents Oregon in the U.S. Senate. Raymond Rees is adjutant general of the Oregon National Guard. Employers interested in participating in any or all of these job fairs are urged to call 503-326-7543.