By Capt. Dayna Rowden
FORT PICKETT, Va. — The 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment treated 17 employers to a fun-filled day packed with adventure March 31 at Fort Pickett.
An event hosted by the Employer Support of Guard and Reserve (ESGR) program, a “Boss Lift” is a chance for employers of Guardsmen and Reservists to see first hand what their employees do in their military careers.
Flown in to the 2/183rd training site at Fort Pickett on UH-60 Black Hawk, the “bosses” started the day in awe and continued to be impressed by the squadron’s training events throughout the day.
Founded in 1972, ESGR is a staff group within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs and was established to “promote cooperation and understanding between Reservists and their employers.” During the “boss lift,” the 2/183 did just that. The employers gladly shouldered rifles, observed mounted reconnaissance training, interviewed snipers, toured an urban training facility, ate meals ready to eat (MREs), and watched mortar teams in action.
Sheila Smith, an employer from the U.S. Postal Service, happily climbed aboard a HUMVEE with gunner Sgt. Jason Hobbs to learn more about the 240B. She, along with the other employers, expressed their appreciation for what the Soldiers do for their country.
All were in agreement that their employees’ service in the National Guard or Reserve make them better employees in the civilian job environment.
Sgt. Scott Humphrey, a member of the Virginia Beach Police Department, who is also the supervisor of Staff Sgt. Andrew Lilje and Staff Sgt. Travis Freeman, praised his police officers and said, “Their military bearing is a perfect fit in the Police Department.”
Lilje and Freeman, who are members of a mobile tactics unit responsible for responding to critical incidents and crowd management, often arrive at work before Humphrey.
“Their dependability and punctuality are great qualities,” Humphrey praised. “They’re just awesome!”
After the conclusion of the day’s events Col. (ret.) Tom Stephen, executive director of the Virginia ESGR, invited the employers to sign a Statement of Support to show their compliance with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Over 840 employers in Virginia have signed similar statements.
For employers who have gone above and beyond in support of their “military employees,” the ESGR awards them the Patriot Award. Award recipients receive a Department of Defense Certificate of Appreciation and a Patriot lapel pin.
All members of the National Guard and Reserve are eligible to nominate their employers. 2/183 Command Sgt. Maj. William Tabor, a Siemens employee, awarded his supervisor, Richard Washabau, the Patriot Award in a ceremony conducted by Lt. Col. Walter Mercer, the commander of the 2/183rd.
The ESGR is staffed with volunteers and ombudsmen who are trained to assist employers and Guardsmen and Reservists by answering questions, resolving conflicts, and encouraging interactions, like the 2/183 “Boss Lift.”
For many of the employers, this day was the first chance many had to learn about their employees’ “other lives.” To the visiting employers, the Soldiers of the 2/183 Cavalry truly proved true the word of Winston Churchill, “The Reservist is twice the citizen.”
For more information regarding ERGR and USERRA, go to www.esgr.mil or call toll free (800) 336-4590.