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ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army Reserve has announced a new Employer Partnership program that would guarantee reservists a civilian job that complements their military specialty, complete with all the necessary training, licensing and certifications.

Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve, said he designed the initiative as a way to give employers incentives for hiring Army Reserve soldiers.

“We’re into the seventh year of the global war on terrorism, and employers are bearing the burden when their soldier-employee takes a leave of absence from the workplace to support the war in Iraq or Afghanistan,” Stultz said. “We’re offering employers who want to partner with us the chance to gain tangible benefits by hiring Army Reserve soldiers.”

The partnership will have significant benefits for reservists, too, according to Lt. Col. Diana Cleven, a Reserve official who helped develop the initiative.

“It will help them be more competitive in their civilian career fields,” Cleven said.

The key to the initiative is developing a cross-credentialing and reciprocity of licensing process with a specific sector of industry, Cleven told Stars and Stripes in a Thursday telephone interview.

Once reservists have the proper paperwork, employers and the Army Reserve can “share the talents of prequalified, screened, trained, educated and advance-certificated professionals,” Cleven said.

Clevens said the Reserve is targeting employers in career fields that have the highest number of reservists employed. Those include medicine, transportation, engineering and constructions, personnel and administration, law enforcement/corrections, information technology, supply and civil affairs, she said.

Although “we’re in the very early stages of getting this together,” Cleven said, two agreements were signed in April.

The first was with the American Trucking Association; the second with Inova Health System, a nationwide health care provider that wants to do a pilot program with 10 Army reservists in its Alexandria hospital.

The agreement with the ATA, the largest national trade association for the trucking industry, is a good example of how the partnerships work, and of some of the challenges involved, Clemens said.

The document, signed April 14, “is a very broad statement” that says the two organizations will focus together on recruiting commercial vehicle drivers to the Army Reserve, recruiting reservists into the trucking industry and, finally, recruiting active-duty soldiers going into the Army Reserve into careers in the trucking industry, she said.

The fine print, involving licensing, is more complex.

One goal is for Army reservists to come out of the Army’s truck driving school with a commercial license. But the Army’s curriculum does not meet the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s standards for granting commercial licenses.

“So now we’re working out how to modify the Army curriculum to receive the credit,” Clevens said.

The flip side is when a commercially licensed truck driver wants to join the Army Reserve. Rather than send that person through the Army school, the way the Army requires today, “it would save taxpayer dollars if there was a modified [Army] course that would take advantage of those skills he has already required,” Clevens said.

Those issues are still being worked out, but the ATA decided not to wait to sign the agreement, because it’s eager to show support for the military, Cleven said.

For more information on the Employer Partnership program, e-mail: arcareers@usar.army.mil.

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