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Would your unit be able to function without the support of civilian employers?

WHITEMAN AFB, Mo -- I had the amazing opportunity recently to travel to Colorado Springs with 27 civilian employers on a Boss Lift hosted by ESGR (Employer Support of The Guard and Reserve). Until I was selected for this trip I had never heard of a Boss Lift or really knew much about ESGR.

After spending 15 hours with these employers I gained a much better appreciation of how hard some businesses work to support and hire our traditional guard workforce. As a full time 131st Bomb Wing Missouri Air National Guard employee, I take for granted the drill weekend and annual training time since I am going to be at work regardless. The civilian employer has to be flexible enough to cover the guardsman/reservist's workload for the duration of their training or even be able to hire a temporary employee if that member is deployed. Many of these ESGR honored employers offer salary compensation, additional leave for military duty, and flexible work schedules to accommodate military commitments.

I had the honor to represent the Air National Guard and explain some of the benefits and uniqueness that comes with being a guard member of the military to the civilian employers who didn't know much about our organization. What I found so inspiring was the dedication and patriotism that the civilian employers showed to their employees. Panther Racing was the sponsor of the Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs Boss lift event, and during a presentation we were shown a video depicting military families and some of the struggles guardsmen face; there wasn't a dry eye in the audience.

Every single employer was proud of their military employee and said they wouldn't hesitate to hire more. This kind of support is priceless considering, according to the Chairman's Staff of the Joint Economic Committee, the Post 9-11 veteran unemployment rate is 12.1% which exceeds the general population unemployment rate of 8.7%.

Honoring your civilian employer will not only help encourage their support of you, but might increase their willingness to hire more veterans/guardsmen in the future.

Our wing is so successful because of the dedication and tireless efforts of our traditional forces. We must not forget that our traditional forces have full time positions outside of the Guard/Reserves and without the support of their employers; they would not be able to fully dedicate themselves to our mission of being the finest military in the world.