**This is a guest post contributed by Chuck Baker.
In 1946 William Wyler directed a post-WWII film entitled “The Best Years of Our Lives.” Considered by most critics and film goers as one of the best movies ever produced, the Oscar winning story revolves around three servicemen returning home after the war. In one scene, actor Dana Andrews returns to the drugstore where he worked prior to the service. The manager asks Andrews if he gained any experience that could transfer to the drugstore. For example, was he a supervisor, did he work in the supply room, did he have purchasing skills? Andrews answers that all he did was pilot bombers over enemy territory. The manger shrugged and offered Andrews a job as a soda jerk, which he took. After all, employment was difficult to obtain after the war.
Today, real-life experiences like that are few and far between. Uniformed service members of the National Guard and Reserve have rights and responsibilities when they return from active duty, particularly when it comes to returning to their pre-deployment employment. And employers are also expected to adhere to laws that govern their actions. Mary T. Johnson is a Nevada based local chairperson of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR.) She oversees a large group of State-wide volunteers who help spread the word concerning smooth transitioning of Nevada residents who return to the workforce after serving the nation.
“We’re fortunate to have support from Nevada’s employers,” Johnson said. She explained that ESGR circulates information under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act that mandates obligations for employers to rehire National Guard and Reservists. But she points out that those returning are required to act quickly as well. Upon returning, they must notify companies of the date they plan to go back to work, and they should seek to resolve any pay and compensation issues. Other details that will vary from employer to employer, such as reviewing 401k or other pension plans, discussing retirement and life insurance benefits, updating personal data such as addresses and phone numbers, and determining if training or retraining of job skills is necessary.
Companies are nominated each year to receive awards for their help in transitioning servicemen and women back to work. There are three categories. “We give awards to large firms, small companies and public sector firms,” Johnson said. Work revolving around ESGR is accomplished by volunteers. Johnson, a resident of Southern Nevada, is a Navy Reservist who reports to the Fallon Naval Air Station. Her volunteer work is separate from her Reserve duties. She covers the entire State, but she is always seeking the services of new volunteers.
Find your local ESGR representative by visiting the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve website here.
*Chuck Baker is a free-lance writer specializing in veterans and military topics.