NEW ORLEANS --
America’s military has evolved after fighting more than a decade of war against terror and tyranny. While many civilians carry on their daily lives knowing their country is kept safe by warriors trained to take the fight to the enemy in the air, on land and at sea, few may realize that a significant number of these service members work to continue their own civilian careers while serving in Guard or Reserve units.
Lt. Gen. Richard P. Mills, commander of Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North, signed a statement of support for the Guard and Reserve at the Marine Corps Support Facility Oct. 29. The statement signifies the commander’s intent to support Reserve Marines and sailors with their civilian careers, supporting the mission of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
“To get the commanding general to make a statement to everyone, that he supports the Guard and Reserve…it’s significant,” Larry Jones, ESGR Louisiana state vice chair, said. “It acknowledges that he agrees to take care of Reserve personnel throughout Marine Forces Reserve.”
The statement of support confirms that Mills will join other employers nationwide in pledging to fully recognize, honor and enforce the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act. This act equips managers and supervisors with the tools they need to effectively manage employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve and to continually recognize and support the country’s service members and their families in peace and conflict.
ESGR aims to gain and maintain civilian employer support for Guardsmen and Reserve members by rewarding outstanding support from civilian employers, as well as resolving conflict through mediation. They also assist unemployed Reserve members with finding work through their program, Hero 2 Hired. The organization is primarily run by volunteers, both civilians and prior service members who want to give back to those who have already given so much.
“One of our mandates is to support employees and employers, and that includes education to make sure they are doing the right thing for Guard and Reserve personnel,” Jones said.
The organization provides this education and support through events such as family fun days that provide crucial cohesion and support for Guard and Reserve units, as well as pre- and post-deployment briefs, which allow service members’ families to be aware of the opportunities and benefits offered by ESGR.
“We ask a tremendous amount of our Guard and Reserve members,” said Mills. “They have dual lives – a military life and a civilian life. We tell them that we are going to activate them and direct them overseas into combat, and they can end up leaving behind their civilian life for up to a year or perhaps more.”
Mills said that many of these service members are still committed to their civilian occupations and need support, both from and for their employers, while they’re gone. Having this support waiting for them at home can give many Guard and Reserve members some much-needed peace of mind.