11/16/05 — Businesses vow to support employees serving in Guard

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Businesses vow to support employees serving in Guard

By Turner Walston
Published in News on November 16, 2005 1:45 PM

Representatives of six local employers signed statements promising to support their employees who are guardsmen or reservists Tuesday, at a ceremony sponsored by Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve, or ESGR. ESGR is a Department of Defense organization established in 1972 to promote understanding between employers and their Reserve or National Guard employees.

By signing the statements, employers pledge not to discriminate in hiring or promoting employees based on service in the Guard or Reserve, that employees will be granted leaves of absence for military service without sacrificing vacation, and that the policies would be made known throughout the place of work.

To date, about 750 employers have signed statements, of about 2,000 in North Carolina that employ guardsmen and reservists.

"It's an outward and visible sign of the love and admiration that the employers feel for their employees," said Johnny Dwiggins, program manager for the North Carolina ESGR. "It sends such a clean signal to the employees. 'Here it is. I'm posting it publicly. I support you guys.'"

Employers then begin to think about ways to enhance their programs to support their veterans, Dwiggins said.

There are guardsmen and reservists serving in 70 countries around the world, Dwiggins said. Among servicemen and women currently deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, 46 percent are from the Guard or Reserve. In the next rotation, guardsmen or reservists will make up 39 percent.

Often, reservists and guardsmen serve the military in a capacity related to their jobs at home, Dwiggins said.

Signing statements Tuesday were McKenzie Lee of Mega Force Staffing, Hope Abbott for Goerlich's Exhaust, Doug May and Ed Whitman for Cooper Bussman, Bill Pate for Employment Security Commissions of Goldsboro and Mount Olive, Chris Martin of Mt. Olive Pickle Company, and Vance Washburn of Waukesha.

"I thought it was really important that we show we continue to support the military community, especially in a town like Goldsboro," Pate said. "It's so important, especially during this time, with the country at war, that we support the folks coming back."

Employers wishing to sign a statement can call Nancy Grigsby, southeastern chairman of North Carolina ESGR, at 580-3206. For more information, go to http://www.esgr.org.