June 24, 2011

Employers experience mobilization training first hand

By Cotton Puryear        
Virginia Department of Military Affairs

CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. — The Virginia State Committee of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve organized a "Boss Lift" that brought 12 employers to visit Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard's Task Force 183 training at Camp Atterbury, Ind., June 17. The employers travelled by military aircraft to Columbus, Ind., then moved by bus to Camp Atterbury. Once they arrived, senior leadership from the installation and the task force's higher headquarters greeted them along with Lt. Col. Bill Korsen, commander of Task Force 183.


A group of 12 employers of Virginia National Guard Soldiers were able to experience mobilization training first hand June 17 at Camp Atterbury during the "Boss Lift" organized by the Virginia State Committee of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

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"We see this as an opportunity for you to see what your Soldier does when they go away," Korsen said. "The intent of this is to get you out here to see what they are doing and spend some time with them. You will get to see some of the training that we do and some of the equipment that we use."

The employers were able to observe Soldiers training on base defense operations, static equipment displays, security operations and a simulated engagement between coalition forces and Iraqi nationals. They also had the chance to sample Meals, Ready to Eat for their lunch meal.

Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, hosted the trip. Approximately 825 Soldiers from across the commonwealth are on federal active duty as part of Task Force 183 and are preparing for duty in Iraq where they are scheduled to conduct convoy security and base defense operations.

"This has been a really great experience," said Richie Morrill, a screening manager at Norfolk International Airport for the Transportation Security Administration who has two Soldiers serving in Task Force 183. He said he was impressed by the level of commitment demonstrated by the Soldiers and the quality of the equipment they have for their mission.

"We know these guys have a dual function, and we have to extend every courtesy we can as employers and make sure they have a job when they come back," he said. "We want to make their transition when they come back as easy as possible."

The Virginia ESGR Committee volunteers registered each employer in the ESGR national database as supportive employers, Stephen said. The nationwide listing of supportive employers can be found by visiting http://www.esgr.mil. Guardsmen and Reservists and their families who are looking for employment can visit this site to locate civilian employers in each state or U.S. territory who have a reputation of employing members of the Guard and Reserve.

"As the employers returned to Virginia, all 12 of them signed ESGR Statements of Support indicating that their civilian business organizations agree to support their dual role employees, honor and enforce the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act," said Thomas M. Stephen, program support manager for the Virginia State Committee of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. "They also agree to provide their managers and supervisors with the tools they need to effectively manage those employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve. Each employer agreed to continually recognize and support our country's service members and their families in peace, crisis and in war."

Task Force 183 is the largest single unit mobilization in the Virginia Army National Guard since World War II, and the unit officially began federal active duty June 1 with departure events held in Fredericksburg, Christiansburg, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Suffolk and Virginia Beach.

The task force will continue to train at Camp Atterbury until late July, then deploy to Iraq.

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