Combat vets learn skills to land peacetime jobs


BillingsGazette – Jess Monroe and Caleb Schultz, two Montana National Guard combat veterans who recently returned from Afghanistan, are considering careers in law enforcement.
To help boost their skills navigating the job market, Monroe, 29, of Billings, and Schultz, 21, of Shepherd, were among about 50 soldiers attending a three-day job-training session that began Friday at the Billings Armed Forces Reserve Center.
The Veterans Opportunity to Work program, which was implemented last year, is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor, which provides instructors. Veterans who are not full-time students or not working are required to participate, said Major Tim Crowe, a spokesman with the Montana National Guard.
The program is designed to help soldiers translate their military skills into the civilian workforce and learn skills in resume writing and job interview techniques, Crowe said.
The Billings session is the program’s second offering in Montana, Crowe said. The first session was held earlier this year in Helena.
About 50 of the 200 soldiers in the 484th Military Police Company based in Malta and the 260th Engineer Company based in Miles City are participating in the Billings session.
Monroe, a member of the 260th Engineer Company, said he has had a lot of jobs, including working as a miner for the Stillwater Mining Co.’s platinum and palladium mine at Nye and for Signal Peak Energy’s underground coal mine near Roundup. Now he’s looking for a career and is leaning toward law enforcement.
“I’m pretty much open for any opportunity at this point,” Monroe said.
Clearing routes in Afghanistan taught him how to handle pressure, to get control of situations and to “be aware,” Monroe said.
Monroe, who has a wife and two sons, 9 and 2, said he joined the National Guard four years ago to “be a part of something.” He wasn’t thinking about getting deployed, but found himself in Afghanistan for a year.
Schultz, of the 484th Company, joined the National Guard when he was 17 to help pay for college. He attended Montana State University for two semesters before being deployed. He is transferring to MSU Billings.
Schultz said he has always wanted to go into law enforcement and plans to contact the Billings Police Department to “let them know I’m interested.” His work history is mostly seasonal jobs, including at the Billings water treatment plant.
Crowe said employers who are interested in hiring a veteran can contact Maj. Chad Roudebush, the officer in charge in Billings, at 406-324-5401 or 406-750-2170 or visit


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