NEWS | Aug. 23, 2021

Alaska Army National Guard hosts maintenance showcase for local business partners

By Edward Eagerton

The Alaska Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion hosted members of local-area businesses and organizations here, Aug. 20, for a maintenance showcase as part of the Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS) program.


The PaYS program is a strategic partnership between the Army National Guard and a cross section of private businesses, universities, and public institutions. It provides Alaska’s newest Citizen-Soldiers the opportunity to increase their prospects for potential civilian employment while also serving in the AK-ARNG.


“This program puts National Guard Soldiers in touch with local employers and affords them the opportunity to interview and hopefully gain employment in the local community,” said Lt. Col. David Jurva, commander of the RRB.


The maintenance showcase was the second iteration of the RRB’s effort to pair Guardsmen with local businesses. The first showcase, centric to culinary arts, was hosted in May and included military cooks who prepared and served food to business owners and employees from local-area restaurants.


Attendees of the maintenance showcase included Doyon, Matson Navigation of Alaska, Denali Universal Services, Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility, Airframes Alaska, Pegasus, UAA Aviation Technology, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, and Superior Machine and Welding.


“The businesses that we were focusing on today were ground maintenance and aviation maintenance,” said Jurva, “both of which are huge in Alaska. Coming from our first showcase, we learned that businesses were having problems finding people to fill positions, and talking to this group today, they’re in the same situation.”


Through the PaYS program, employers benefit from a controlled flow of quality employment candidates who have established a positive work ethic, entry-to-mid-level leadership skills, tested free and clear of drugs, and are honorably serving their state and nation.


Dianne Stebbins, the human resources manager for Alaska Airframes out of Palmer, explained that the National Guard was a valuable resource to their own recruiting efforts by providing trained and reliable candidates for employment.


“We’re an aviation company, and being able to bring in welders, mechanics, and machinists, that’s a great resource for us, because it’s hard to find people,” Stebbins explained. “We hire a lot of entry-level employees as well, so if they already have this base, this education, this training, and the discipline, then that’s a great potential to bring them in and then provide them with the training we give them.”


Like Stebbins, Jerry Ravlin and Jeff Kusz, who both work for Matson Navigation of Alaska, said that hiring from the military is good for their company because of the quality of employees the Guard provides.


“Both Jeff and I are retired Air Force,” said Ravlin, “so we’ve served, and I can tell you the biggest thing we look for is somebody that’s reliable, has a high level of integrity, and is motivated. We’re not talking about experience and qualifications, we’re talking about being an employee that’s good and productive and provides good feedback and works well as a team. We’re looking for folks who are innovative, who can think how to do things better; it all starts there before we even get to the discussion on what experience you have turning a wrench.”


Jurva explained that the RRB is actively looking for more companies to join the program, and that newly enlisted Soldiers will be introduced to the PaYS enlistment option during their initial interview with their recruiter.


New Soldiers may select up to five PaYS partner companies at the Military Processing Station during the enlistment process with a guidance counselor. When Soldiers return home after successfully completing initial entry training, they are eligible to contact the PaYS partner companies to schedule their interview.


“I think today went very well,” said Jurva, reflecting on the maintenance showcase. “We’re just trying to not only help employers find employees, but also to help National Guard Soldiers by connecting them with these business influencers in the local community.”