Employment initiative pays off for Minn. Red Bulls

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An intensive effort by the Minnesota National Guard to assist soldiers in landing jobs after returning home from active duty has paid off.

MPR reports most of the 2,700 guardsmen from the 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division that returned home from the Middle East last spring are employed.

When the last of the Red Bulls returned in May, WCCO reported about 20 percent faced unemployment. The National Guard says only 35 members are still looking for work.

Guard officials took a more aggressive approach to prepare troops for reintegrating back to civilian life.

Representatives from Target, U.S. Bank, Best Buy, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce spent two weeks on a military base in Kuwait to help prepare soldiers for the job hunt.

Although the approach proved successful, MPR says the unemployment rate for Minnesota's military is just over 8 percent, nearly a percentage point higher than the unemployment rate statewide.

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a federal agency that works with employers looking to hire service members, assisted more than 3,000 employers hire more than 11,000 Minnesota military members in 2011.

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The Minnesota National Guard unit known as the Red Bulls is back on home soil. 2.700 Guard members returned to Minnesota after a year-long deployment in Kuwait. Their mission included escorting U.S. troops withdrawing from iraq. The last of the Red Bulls returned this weekend with happy homecomings at armories across Minnesota.

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