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Inside the Gates: National Guard soldiers show they have more skills than serving on front lines

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 6:48 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) -There’s plenty on the menu for Alaska National Guard soldiers. They dine on pork chops, rice and asparagus. They are not the only ones who have lunch inside the field kitchen at Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson.

Representatives from Anchorage’s restaurant industry also gather to sample the food prepared and served by members of the guard’s Culinary Unit. It’s part of their mission. They went to a culinary showcase hosted by the Alaska National Guard on May 14 looking for potential employees.

“Because of their professionalism, their dedication, their passion, their drive,” said Rachel Hull, the executive chef at Bear Tooth Theatrepub. “Those are qualities we are definitely looking for.”

The inaugural culinary showcase is part of the Guard’s adoption of the Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS) program. It guarantees soldiers an interview with a private business, a university or a public institution, according to a press release from the Alaska National Guard. It’s the first time the guard has hosted an event like this. Leaders chose the restaurant industry to launch the program.

“The restaurant industry right now has been really struggling trying to get workers back to work post-COVID,” said Lt. Col. David Jurva, the guard’s recruiting and retention battalion commander. “We’re giving them an opportunity to look at guardsmen to fill that gap in the meantime.”

The military recruited these soldiers, but their culinary skills may get them recruited for a new career.

“I wouldn’t mind, when I get out of the service I have a place, I have a job. It’s Plan A, B, and C,” said Master Sgt. Sheila Kauahi

The guard is planning its next showcase, which will likely focus on mechanics.

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