Group promotes support for guard and reserve

Lou Brackett
Lou Brackett

Extended tours take a toll not only on members of the National Guard and Reserve deployed for active duty, but also the civilian employers for which they work.

But an agency offers services to guard and reserve members as well as employers as part of efforts to promote support for employee participation in military service.

It’s important to recognize the employers who support the members of the guard and reserve who defend the nation, said Lou Brackett, a retired Army colonel in Fruita who serves as an employer outreach coordinator with Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).

Established in 1972 as an agency of the Department of Defense, ESGR assists members of the guard and reserve and their employers through programs offering recognition, information and mediation.

A network of volunteers across the country operate what are known as field committees, including a committee in Colorado, Brackett said.

About half the U.S. military is comprised of guard and reserve members who serve a dual role involving not only national defense, but also disaster relief, he said.

At the same time, guard and reserve members also work for civilian employers and run their own businesses. Guard and reserve members bring specialized training to their civilian jobs as well as the benefits of employees who are disciplined and physically fit, he added.

Because of protracted conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade, guard and reserve members have endured longer tours of active duty and repeated deployments. That’s required a greater sacrifice of members and their families, Brackett said.

But employers face strains, too, in losing the services of what are often key employees for extended periods, he added.

The ESGR recognizes employers who support the guard and reserve by presenting them with a statement of support from the Department of Defense.

Home Loan & Investment Co. and Martin Mortuary are among the Grand Junction businesses that recently received statements, Brackett said. Home Loan encourages military participation and recognition during the Junior College Baseball World Series. Martin Mortuary participates in a homeless veterans burial program, he said.

ESGR also promotes support of employees in the guard and reserve by escorting business owners and supervisors on tours of military installations to allow them to observe firsthand how guard and reserve members train.

Brackett said he’s available to speak with service clubs and other groups about ESGR and its services.

In addition, ESGR provides information to employers about the Uniformed Services Employment and Remployment Rights Act of 1994, a federal law that established rights and responsibilities for guard and reserve members and their civilian employers. A resource guide offering answers to frequently asked questions about the law is available, Brackett said.

ESGR offers the same information toguard and reserve members as well as ombudsman services to help resolve disputes that might arise between service members and employers.