Employer support crucial to those in National Guard and Reserve

BY THOMAS DESPAIN Published: June 23, 2012

For the past 40 years, the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) has promoted a culture in which employers support the military service of their employees in the National Guard and Reserve. The last decade of continuous combat and historic natural disasters has tested our reliance on these service members and employers, revealing both groups' willingness to make extraordinary sacrifices for our country.

In 1972, ESGR developed a pledge that employers sign affirming that they'll meet and exceed their legal obligations to military employees. This pledge remains a symbol of strong commitment. It reassures employees whose anxiety over military service declines when knowing that employers stand behind them.

ESGR's ombudsmen program, started in 1975, provides free information and neutral mediation to help resolve workplace issues. A 1994 law provides employment rights and responsibilities for Guard and reserve service members, yet some still suffer when their employers lack awareness of the law. In some cases, guardsmen and reservists find their deployment costs them a pay raise, promotion or job. Oklahoma ESGR has 57 volunteers, with six ombudsmen, to assist guardsmen, reservists and employers.

Most employers proudly support their military employees. ESGR developed an awards program to recognize these employers, as their encouragement is critical to sustaining our military. This year, 44 Oklahoma guardsmen and reservists nominated their employers for the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

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