Episode 4: Wisconsin Army National Guard and SITE Staffing, Inc.

Podcast Guests

photo of Leighann Lovely

Leighann Lovely

SITE Staffing, Inc.

photo of Morgan Sbabo

Morgan Sbabo

SITE Staffing, Inc.

photo of Specialist Jon Farness

Specialist Jon Farness

Wisconsin Army National Guard

photo of Staff Sergeant Cody Anderson

Staff Sergeant Cody Anderson

Wisconsin Army National Guard

Leighann Lovely 0:05
Welcome to HRables: HR in Bite-Sized Pieces. I’m Leighann Lovely and today we are talking with the Wisconsin Army National Guard. SITE Staffing and the Wisconsin Army National Guard have been working in partnership to help get the word out on each other’s behalf. So what does that mean? Well, today I have Staff Sergeant Cody Anderson and Specialist John Farness, along with Morgan Sbabo, our in house direct hire recruiter here to talk about how working together can be beneficial for so many people and companies. Staff Sergeant Cody Anderson has been with the Wisconsin Army National Guard for 14 years. Specialist Jon Farness, has been with the Wisconsin Army National Guard for six years. And they are both responsible for recruiting for the National Guard in the local Milwaukee area. Morgan Sbabo has 13 years of direct hire recruitment experience, mostly on a national level. She is a proud military wife who relocated with her husband to join SITE Staffing in August 2019. She heads up our direct hire recruiting efforts and has a keen understanding of how to correlate military experience to civilian workforce. So welcome, all of you. I’m very excited to be here.

Jon Farness 1:25
Thank you for having us.

Cody Anderson 1:26
Thank you.

Leighann Lovely 1:27
So why don’t we jump right in? Jon, why don’t you tell me what the Wisconsin Army National Guard is and how you compare to other branches of the military.

Jon Farness 1:40
So hands down the Wisconsin Army National Guard is the best kept secret in the military. Obviously, that’s coming from a little biased viewpoint there. But by definition, the National Guard, we’re a reserve component of the army, we do the same training, we wear the same uniform there, alright. We’re not active duty though. The National Guard, we have a dual mission where we can get activated federally or on the state side. So because we have that dual mission, we have dual budget from both federal and local state government in there. How does it compare to other military branches? You’re going to get a biased opinion anywhere you go. I know we were talking briefly beforehand. And Morgan was telling us how her husband is in the Navy. And I’m sure the Navy is the best branch ever. But actually, it’s the National Guard. It truly depends though. How it compares to other branches, it truly depends on what an individual’s goals are, and what their needs are. The best way to find out what’s going to be best for an individual is talking to a recruiter. If you wanted like a set standard, you could look on websites like Glassdoor, you’ll see that National Guard is rated 4.1 stars on Glassdoor versus active duty army is rated 3.8. The Navy, the Marines, Air Force, they come in pretty close to at 4.0 even. Some of the key differences, though, between the National Guard and the other branches. Again, we have that state mission where we can help out in the local community for state emergencies. Things like floods, wildfires, rescue missions. This past year here in the Wisconsin Army National Guard, we got activated for COVID-19 testing, and vaccine distribution as well as some civil unrest out in Kenosha in the local Milwaukee area.

Leighann Lovely 3:41
Yeah. Excellent. Great. So what are some of the the misconceptions of joining the Army National Guard?

Cody Anderson 3:51
Misconceptions? You want me to answer that?

Jon Farness 3:52
Yeah, absolutely.

Cody Anderson 3:53
No, you go for it.

Jon Farness 3:54
So some of the common misconceptions is that the National Guard can’t be deployed overseas. And that’s just absolutely false. There’s a lot that goes into deployments and activations. And for the National Guard, it can happen in two different ways. You can get deployed overseas, or you can get activated here in the state, kind of for those state emergencies I was just talking about. Other misconceptions is that the National Guard runs out of money. Again, we’re dual funded, so we’re funded the same way any other reserve component of the military is funded, and then we also get funding from the state government. So all of our soldiers get paid when they’re supposed to get paid, and all of our benefits are funded as well.

Leighann Lovely 4:41
So what are some of the benefits of joining the guard?

Jon Farness 4:47
So the Wisconsin Army National Guard, the National Guard as a whole is known for their education benefits. We have all of the same education benefits as any other reserve component of the military. But we’re the National Guard kind of steps it up is that we provide 100% college tuition here in the state of Wisconsin, up to the cost of UW Madison, for their bachelor’s degree. So that’s kind of a big deal. A lot of people might get that confused with the Wisconsin GI Bill. And that’s a separate education benefit that can be used for education passed your bachelor’s degree. So it’s 100% tuition readmission for 120 credits at any UW school system. So the National Guard is known for their education benefits, because we have the same education benefits as the Federal Reserve components. And then we also because of our state funding, have those state education benefits. Outside of those education benefits, we also have low cost health care, low cost dental care, there’s retirement plans, there’s job stabilities, there are set timelines for pay raises, and then there’s a set structure to get promotions as well.

Leighann Lovely 6:03
So on top of being within, obviously, the Army National Guard, and being able to have a full time job that you’re working out on the side, you are also eligible for the benefits within the Army National Guard.

Jon Farness 6:19
Yeah, you’re eligible for those benefits, as long as your a member of the National Guard.

Yeah, I guess like an indirect benefit would be the actual freedom to do all of that stuff. Like, right, yeah, you get all this stuff. But what what people don’t understand is that like, they see the army, they see the uniform, right? So why not? Like, hey I’m one of you. Right? I do have an obligation to put that on two days a month, right. The rest of that, all of those things that we just listed, you get to go use on the outside of that. So the rest of the 28 days a month? Your choice. You do what you want.

Leighann Lovely 6:29

Jon Farness 6:30
Yeah, I guess I didn’t really explain that. When I say reserve component in the military. Again, we’re not active duty we’re not 365. We train one weekend, a month and two weeks in the summer after basic training. That’s what soldiers in the National Guard commit to. You can choose to serve more than that, but that’s what the soldiers do.

Leighann Lovely 7:17
And typically, how long is your basic training and your additional job training?

Jon Farness 7:26
Yeah, so basic training is split up into two parts. There’s that, you know, what everyone knows is boot camp for basic training, it’s about 10 weeks long. It’s the fundamentals of what being a soldier is. And more importantly than that, that second part of training, everyone in the military has a job that they specialize in. Anything that exists in the civilian world, the military has it in some way, shape, or form. So depending on what job you choose to do with the Wisconsin Army National Guard varies in length on how long your job training is. But that 10 weeks plus your job training is usually back to back.

Leighann Lovely 8:02
And do you, I mean, is there a typical station/states that you see a lot of the individuals being sent to for boot camp?

Jon Farness 8:14
Yeah, how many do we have four?

So for that first 10 weeks, there’s four locations.

So was it Missouri? Fort Leonard Wood.

I think Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Fort Benning, Georgia. Yep. And then there’s Fort Jackson, as well. And then job training, depending on what your job is, you could be anywhere in the United States. Yeah. But that first time weeks is going to be in one of those four locations.

Leighann Lovely 8:39
Perfect. Great. That’s good information. So why do you see people typically join?

Jon Farness 8:45
People join the National Guard for various reasons. There’s some individuals out there that are only joining for the college benefit. There’s a lot of push to avoid student debt. Those student loans and with the National Guard offering 100% college tuition, it’s a good way to avoid, you know, going thousands of dollars into student loan debt. Other people, you know, they join because they have a call to service or, you know, a call to help out in the local community. Other people are just looking for adventure. I would say overall, almost everyone in the National Guard, they do join, because in some way they do have that call to help others.

Leighann Lovely 9:30
Excellent. Yes. You know, when I was stopped on the side of the road, because I had a flat tire, the two people that stopped to help me were members of the military.

Jon Farness 9:43
That’s awesome.

Leighann Lovely 9:44
It is, yes, to pull that personal experience in. So military members, they do have that, that inherent call to to just naturally help others and it’s just in my personal experience again, so well, I would love to hear some of your you know, personal experience, Cody on, you know, your experience with the National Guard.

Cody Anderson 10:08
Absolutely. Um, okay, where to start? Alright, so I enlisted into the National Guard in 2006. So how that worked, it’s kind of like a kind of a longer story. But basically what happened was 10 years old had brain surgery. Right? I wasn’t allowed to play contact sports, couldn’t do like literally anything. Still have the scar on my head. Throughout high school, I wasn’t allowed to do any of that, like the cool sports or anything then that’s all like my my friends kind of switched. And all that. And actually, my mom didn’t want me to play like football, basketball, baseball, the cool things, right? So, so I think it was junior year, senior year, can’t remember, I said, Hey, you let me play basketball in my senior year, or I’m joining the army. And at 17 years old the recruiter was sitting in there actually was an active duty recruiter. And she signed it away, right, she signed it away, I ended up switching over to the National Guard, because I thought I was going for the National Guard. That was a that was a misconception is that like, hey, you’re wearing this, you’re the you’re the you’re the army, right? National Guard the same thing. So that’s kind of what happened.The reason I joined is I come from a very small town in Central Wisconsin. It wasn’t very easy, I guess, being like, not being able to do all the sports and stuff because in the small town, it was like, you have a name and you play sports, and you do the good things for that. You you kind of were in the spotlight, right? So for that, I think I was a skater, I didn’t really conform to whatever everyone else was doing. And so I kind of was like, I don’t want to say an outcast. But I certainly wasn’t in that spotlight. And so my whole reason why I joined is I wanted to leave, I wanted to leave there, because I saw that if you didn’t go to school, if you didn’t have good enough grades to go to school, which I didn’t, my entire sophomore year, I had straight Fs. If you didn’t have good enough grades to go to school, you were gonna go work at the foundry or some factory. And I was not that was not my, that was not my future. That was not anything. So I joined, I went to basic training, I went to Fort Leonard Wood as a combat engineer. And did all that stuff came back. I was in Rhinelander and was with … at the time. I show up late because I could not find the armory. Right. It’s in Rhinelander Wisconsin, like it’s roads everywhere, right, that go to nowhere. I show up late with my buddy. And they’re already, in first formation and all that stuff and I was like Oh, boy, like we’re gonna get, we’re gonna get in trouble. Commander comes out. He’s like, Hey everybody come in horse shoe around me. Take a knee, you’re going to Afghanistan. I was like, I just got here, man. Like, right? Back then they gave us a year notice of sourcing, so I was like, Oh my god, we’re gonna go like tomorrow like this is what’s happening. But how that works is they gave you a year. Right? Notice of sourcing, so you can get all trained up prior to actually leaving because, I mean, we’re only one weekend a month. So we can’t really do that we, we have to spread it out over time. Right. So I’m like those active duty guys like, hey, you’re going and I know the turn-around is, like, you know, really short. It’s a lot shorter than that, right? So it gave me a year to kind of get in the mindset of all that stuff. And then I went to southern Afghanistan where I did route plans. So I actually like look varieties, drought and bushes. And, you know, the line stuff will say that and we’re gonna support with the infantry guys, right, some active duty infantry graduates, hands down, greatest guys. They’re very professional. And I have nothing but good things to say about these guys. Because those, they train day in and day out. And they’re 100% awesome at what they do. Yeah, I spent 10 months over there, a total of 12 months. So we did two months, in like, a little less than two months, about a month and a half, at Camp Shelby for our mobile station and then 10 months in the country. Back then they gave us leave, so I got to come home for two weeks. I didn’t tell anybody until I was like a week in because I didn’t really want to talk to anyone. And then went back over, did my thing found some IUD’s, I did some cool stuff with some cool guys and then made it back. Yeah. That’s kind of, like for me it’s not a very it’s kind of an unorthodox story with like the National Guard because I, I, you see all of like the advertisements you see all of like, you hear all the things that people say about it, I’ve pretty much experienced it all right? Like, I’m not like, what would you say like a traditional National Guardsmen, right, in their story in that sense, because I’ve been deployed twice to Afghanistan. And I’ve been activated for the state, probably, I think about five times. And now I finally after 13 years, I went active duty for the guard, I was like, you know, I’m just, I’m just going to do this and commit to it. Yeah.

Leighann Lovely 15:55
Wow. That’s, that’s an amazing story. I kind of was, not kind of was, was very, very enthralled in that. I mean, it was, that’s a great story.

Cody Anderson 16:06

Leighann Lovely 16:07
Coming from a small town, you really made an amazing…

Cody Anderson 16:14
Well, I appreciate that.

Leighann Lovely 16:15
…a lot of yourself, and and you’ve done, and thank you for your service. Thank you both for your service.

Cody Anderson 16:20
I appreciate that.

Jon Farness 16:21
Yeah, we really do appreciate the support.

Leighann Lovely 16:23
Yeah, we need people like you. We need a lot of people like you, especially in the in the last year. It’s been a difficult, interesting year that we’ve had.

Jon Farness 16:34
Yes, yes, indeed.

Leighann Lovely 16:36
So Morgan, I’d like to kind of turn things over to you here for a second. So, you know, obviously heard quite a bit about, you know, what the National Guard, the Army National Guard is all about. So how can we assist soldiers returning from their training, that may not have had a position when they went to training, that may be looking for a position when they come back to the civilian world.

Morgan Sbabo 17:05
So I know I understand, with my husband being an active duty in the military, I also have an uncle who was a 30 year, served in the United States Marine Corps for 30 years retired as the Chief Warrant Officer four. So being so closely related to it, I’ve had the ability to adjust the understanding of what you’ve done as a job in the military. So with that, that’s how we’re able to help you generally, if someone comes in, who’s a veteran who’s active duty, who’s reservist, if they come into SITE Staffing, they’re generally sent over to me, so I can kind of review what they’ve done, kind of see how that would correlate with our clients, and then get them sent off to the right way. And then of course, explain how that matches up with what our client is looking for. So that’s one of the benefits that we have of having someone who’s related to the military.

Leighann Lovely 18:02
And have we have we worked with clients in the past who have been really open to working with not only active members of the Army National Guard, but also, you know, that we have a relationship with with veterans as well. Do are we currently working and continuing to work with companies that that you talk to on a regular basis?

Morgan Sbabo 18:24
Yes, absolutely. So we, couple months ago, placed a candidate on a temporary Temp to Hire position with one of our clients who he is a reservist. So you know, we had to explain to them the training process and how, you know, once a month, he has to check in for so many hours for duty. And we explain that schedule to them to let them know, you know, this is what you have to look forward with. We can give you the dates three weeks in advance, unless you know, if it’s gonna somehow impact your production. We can work around it, they will need so many weeks off during the summer for training. So we explain all of that upfront. I’ve just in the last couple weeks placed, successfully placed three veterans within our direct hire department with clients. A lot of times they everyone’s veteran friendly, everyone’s welcome to have veterans come in because they know the structure and the mentality of anyone who’s been in the service. But I always like to use the phrase, “are you veteran ready?” So veterans have a different kind of understanding and structure. We’ve learned that within the first year of coming into the civilian workforce, that a lot of military veterans quit their position, just because the structure isn’t there. So I like to discuss that with the managers as well as the direct supervisors of who’s going to be working with our military vets to kind of explain what to look for what to expect and what they’re expecting out of the company.

Leighann Lovely 19:57
Excellent and I can’t say enough how awesome it is to hear firsthand you know your story, Cody, and to hear, you know, just a little bit about, you know, directly from you, John, the benefits and you know what you can, you get and give to the Army National Guard. It’s been an amazing conversation today. I really truly truly enjoyed it. So I thank everybody for taking the time to have this conversation with me.

Thank you for tuning in. If you have a comment or you’d like to just join the conversation, please reach out to us on LinkedIn. If you are a company and you would like assistance with your open positions I’d love to hear from you or if you are looking for a new position you can apply at our website at www.sitestaffinginc.com. And finally, if you enjoyed our podcast today, share us, like us or leave a comment. Please tune in next time. I’m Leighann Lovely with SITE Staffing, and this is HRables: HR in Bite-Sized Pieces. We are now available on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, iHeart Radio, Player FM, or wherever you get your podcasts.