Attack Wing partakes in cornerstone event of Guard, reserve support
By Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond, 111th Attack Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 16, 2016
HORSHAM AIR GUARD STATION, Pa. -- In an event to bolster civilian employers' advocacy for their military employees, the 111th Attack Wing's leadership here took part in a historic event in center-city Philadelphia on June 14.
Inside the soaring One Comcast Center, and observed by members of the Wing and other military representatives, Alex Baird, the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) executive director joined with Neil Smit, CEO of Comcast Cable and senior vice president of Comcast Corp., to sign the ESGR Statement of Support.
"We've had over 900,000 activations since 9/11," said Baird. "I believe that deep down employers really do want to support their Guard and reserve folks. And what we find is that when there is friction between the [member] and the employer, it's usually due to education - the employer didn't understand."
Baird added that educating the employer, as well as the military member, is a major function of ESGR. He recommends visiting ESGR's website for information that applies to employers and military employees. Also, ESGR has a phone number available to answer on-the-spot questions.
"We're available Monday through Friday to answer questions," said Baird regarding the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). "The best thing for employers to do is just call and ask us. We have trained professionals in Washington D.C. to answer their questions and 580 qualified people nation-wide who can go out and train locally."
Baird said that not having to worry about their civilian occupation allows an activated reservist or Guardsman to better prepare.
A company can help their employees do just that through ESGR.
The ESGR Statement of Support, is the foundation of their effort to gain and maintain employer support. As established by the secretary of defense, it certifies that the signing organization will adhere to:
- fully recognizing, honoring and complying with the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act (USERRA);
- providing managers and supervisors with the tools they needs to effectively manage employees who serve in the Guard and reserve;
- appreciate the values, leadership and unique skills service members bring to the workforce and will encourage opportunities to hire Guardsmen, reservists and veterans;
- continually recognize and support the country's service members and their families, in peace, in crises and in war.
"The ESGR is the military advocate for part-time military members with their employers," said retired Major Gen. Wesley Craig, a previous Pa. National Guard adjutant general. "We work to educate the employer about USERRA; we have an ombudsmen branch if there is a dispute between a military member and employer; and we are willing to do impartial ombudsmen service to hash out issues before they have to go to court."
Craig, who is on Pennsylvania's USO Board of Directors and is an active member in the ESGR, also stated that the ESGR serves to reward employers who support their military employees, since this is imperative in military retention efforts.
"You need three supports for any member of the Guard and reserve. You have to have the dedicated service member; you have to have the support of the family and you have to have a dedicated employer.
"If your employer is giving you a hard time, you're going to get out of the Guard and reserve. Guaranteed."