Our local and military communities in Guam and the CNMI have a long history of mutual sacrifice and support with regard to what is a substantial military presence. The Guam-CNMI committee of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, or ESGR, appreciates the community’s continued support. Regardless of whether you or a loved one have served part time in a reserve component or active duty military, the entire community both shares the burdens and enjoys the benefits of our local Guard and Reserve units.
ESGR is a Department of Defense volunteer organization established in 1972. Its mission includes educating both service members and their civilian employers on their respective rights and responsibilities under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, or USERRA. USERRA is a federal law intended to ensure that individuals who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, Reserve, National Guard, or other uniformed services: (1) are not disadvantaged in their civilian careers because of their service; (2) are promptly reemployed in their civilian jobs upon their return from military duty; and (3) are not discriminated against in employment based on past, present, or future military service. The law is intended to encourage non-career uniformed service so the United States can enjoy the protection of those Services, staffed by qualified people, while maintaining a balance with the needs of private and public employers who also depend on these same individuals.
As part of this effort, ESGR helps resolve issues or conflicts between employers and service members before they escalate through free mediation services. ESGR facilitates an extensive awards program for supportive employers whose service-member employees have nominated them for recognition of their sacrifices. Other outreach activities include “Bosslifts,” which are unique and exciting opportunities for employers to get a first-hand look at the military training and equipment utilized by their service-member employees.
The sacrifices of service-members and their families in ensuring the safety and stability of our local community is an issue that transcends politics. Since the end of the Vietnam era, our communities have benefitted from an all-volunteer military without resorting to a draft. Since the infamous coordinated terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, which motivated the Global War on Terrorism, the demands on service-members and their civilian employers have increased dramatically.
As taxpayers, we enjoy the additional protection of Guard and Reserve units in a manner which is more cost-effective than their full-time counterparts. For their part, local employers gain the benefit of service-member employees who have unique organizational and leadership skills, and who are self-disciplined, physically fit, and drug-free.
Still, our Guard and Reserve members, for all their sacrifice, face an unemployment rate of 13 percent. ESGR partners with local and national organizations to improve service-member employability and placement. Supportive employers are critical to maintaining the strength and readiness of the Nation’s Guard and Reserve units. Service-members who are secure in their civilian work and family life are more able to focus on the missions at hand.
Our local Guard and Reserve units provide unique opportunities for our men and women to benefit from financial assistance in their education, to develop their professional skills, to provide for their families, and to support their communities as a whole, often while remaining stationed locally. So cheer them on, appreciate the support of the service-members and their families, and encourage local employers to hire and support these brave men and women. Because, in the end, we all serve.
John R.B. Bell is a past director of Military Outreach of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.