How often have you heard the phrase National Guard and Reserve Service members “deserve our support?”
I hear it a lot. Then again, I’ve worked with thousands of employers over the years who have committed their support to employing our country’s uniformed Service members. And it’s not just employers—we hear the phrase being rebounded across the country by politicians, veterans’ organizations, and countless patriots who have served or know someone who has.
And I’ve used it too, a lot. I’ve worked with Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve for many years, and I’ve echoed that sentiment in speeches, ceremonies, meetings, and engagements with the media … a thousand times at least.
But the more I think about the phrase, the less I believe “deserve our support” fits. It’s not a matter of deserving anything. It’s not that they deserve any of the entitlements, benefits, or support they receive. It’s not that they are owed it, are worthy of it, or have some claim to it as a reward for their service—though I believe they do.
Rather, they’ve earned it, and they continue to earn it every day.
They earn it by responding to domestic emergencies, like they’re doing now in Flint, Michigan, like they did with Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Sandy, the California state fires, and the South Carolina floods. They showed the world that their compassion, professionalism, and courage continually safeguards our way of life, not just abroad, but here at home as well.
We also rely heavily on Guardsmen and Reservists to augment active-duty forces. More than 900,000 have deployed since 9/11, and more than 25,000 are deployed at this very moment. They are the backbone of our Total Force, and they are becoming more and more important as the military transitions from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Reserve service is not easy. National Guard and Reserve members strike a complicated balance between civilian and military commitments. They not only mobilize and deploy for months—sometimes years during their career—but are also required to participate in ongoing training and fulfill a variety of additional service requirements. These commitments take them away from their families, friends, jobs, and education. But we ask it of them because we need them; it’s important, it matters.
This is why thousands of employers have signed Statements of Support and work together to hire Reservists, provide support when they’re activated, and help them reintegrate when they come home.
This is also why employers haven’t grown tired of supporting our men and women in uniform. They know when the time comes, our Guard and Reserve members need to be ready to deploy, to respond when disaster strikes, and to provide the crucial support our nation needs during times of conflict.
National Guard and Reserve members earn our support every time they put on that uniform and provide training to security forces in Afghanistan, protect the waterways to ensure international trade, stop drugs from entering into the United States, or save thousands of lives when natural disasters affect entire communities.
Tom is responsible for the planning, design and execution of proactive ESGR employer outreach initiatives. He implements and manages ESGR Employer Outreach marketing programs utilized by ESGR Strategic Partners, ESGR Field Committee Volunteers, and Reserve Components, which are designed to promote the mission of ESGR.
His military service was with the US Air Force (1966-1970) as a Security Policeman. Tom volunteered for Vietnam and voluntarily extended his tour of duty to 20 months at Tan Son Nhut Air Field, Republic of Vietnam. His military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Army Commendation Medal.
Tom was honored by the Department of Defense with the James M. Roche “Spirit of Volunteerism” Award which is the highest award given to an ESGR committee volunteer for sustained quality service as a volunteer over a substantial period of years. The award highlights patriotism, good citizenship and public responsibility which are often achieved by heroic efforts and great personal sacrifice.
In addition to the James M. Roche “Spirit of Volunteerism” Award Tom is a 2015 recipient of the Department of Defense “Spirit of Service Award”. In being chosen as an outstanding public servant, he and the other honorees have demonstrated the core values of honor, integrity, and excellence in everyday public service as well as met the four criteria set by the selection board – good stewards of taxpayer dollars, innovation and creativity in the workplace, support to U.S. Service members, and quality community service.