Guam – As many as 200 Guam Guard members returning from Afghanistan will be eligible for unemployment benefits from the state of Mississippi.
That is because the returning guard members will be processed out of service at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and the Governor’s Office has announced that the state of Mississippi has agreed to process their claims.
The unemployment benefits will be paid out of the federal government’s Unemployment Compensation for Ex-servicemembers [UCX].
The UCX program provides eligible military personnel with compensation while they are unemployed. It is available in 50 states and 3 other territories, but not in Guam.
However, the Guam Department of Labor reached out to the National Association of State Workforce Administrators to find a way for Guam to participate and the solution was to allow the returning Guam guard members to enroll in Mississippi’s program while they are in that state processing out at Camp Shelby.
Governor Calvo is quoted in the release as saying that “Our brave Guardsmen risk their lives defending our freedoms. They deserve to come home without worrying if they can take care of their families.”
READ the release from the Governor’s Office below:
“Our brave Guardsmen risk their lives defending our freedoms. They deserve to come home without worrying if they can take care of their families. My administration is committed to helping these heroes however we can—even if it means we need to blaze new trails, like we’re doing with the Unemployment Compensation for Ex-servicemembers program. We will keep our guard up through partnerships that provide training, education, and jobs to the men and women who fought for our island and country.” – Governor Eddie Baza Calvo
Unemployed Guardsmen will return home to new financial assistance program
Thanks to an innovative and forward-thinking collaboration, 200 Guardsmen returning from Afghanistan will be eligible for unemployment benefits when they return home. This new assistance is part of the federal government’s Unemployment Compensation for Ex-servicemembers (UCX) program.
DOL secures temporary solution for unemployed, returning guardsmen
In the 50 states and three territories, the UCX program provides eligible military personnel with compensation while they are unemployed. This program does not exist on Guam. The Guam Department of Labor reached out to the National Association of State Workforce Administrators to find a way for Guam to participate in the UCX program.
The director of the Guam Department of Labor, Manny Cruz, facilitated this partnership to help Guardsmen who are unemployed. He is a member of the National Association of State Workforce Administrators.
“I want to thank the National Association of State Workforce Administrators and the U.S. Department of Labor/ Employment Training Administration. With their assistance we will be able to help these Guardsmen realize the benefits of this program, we’ll be able to follow Governor Calvo’s vision of helping people who need it the most. “ – Department of Labor, Manny Cruz
As a result of these discussions, Guam, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the National Guard have secured a temporary fix through the state of Mississippi.
Mississippi agrees to process and pay for claims
The state of Mississippi has agreed to process the claims of the 200 eligible Guam Guard and Reserve members that will return from Afghanistan this month. As part of their return trip home, Guam’s service members will spend time in Camp Shelby, Mississippi.
Guam Department of Labor will certify that eligible Guardsmen have registered with Guam’s Employment Service, so they may be processed through the Mississippi’s UCX program. All stakeholders are working to finalize details about this process, so the information can be sent to our local Guardsmen.
Guam DOL will be tasked with monitoring and processing here on Guam through the duration of the program.
Keep Your Guard Up
In September, Governor Calvo launched the Keep Your Guard Up! Campaign. This initiative is a comprehensive effort from government partners, non-profit organizations, and the business community to fund jobs for nearly 300 unemployed Guardsmen who are part of this deployment. The campaign has established five tracks to help returning Guard members:
Want a job immediately
Want to get certification in a skilled area
Want to attend college
Want to pass my benefits on to my family
Want to start a business
The Keep Your Guard Up Campaign is working with Guam Community College, GEDA, the Employment Services of the Guard and Reserves to establish programs to help our service members.