When you ask employers what a National Guard member or Reservist typically does outside of their civilian occupation, many do not have an idea. The District of Columbia Committee of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve wanted to change that.

By Jessica Knight, D.C. ESGR Employment Coordinator

A group of employers from the District, Delaware, Maryland, and the Virginia area took part in a Boss Lift hosted by the U.S. Coast Guard, the first of its kind. The event was planned to offer a better understanding to the communities and businesses that are impacted by deployed employees and the role they play in serving our country.26017117500_52988b8a57_o

Thirty employers met at the D.C. Armory and then took a bus to Robinson Pier South in downtown Alexandria, Virginia, where they boarded the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) James Rankin. The USCGC James Rankin is home ported at the Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay, Baltimore, Maryland. The James Rankin and her crew are responsible for maintenance of over 400 buoys in the Upper Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries including the Potomac River up to our nation’s capital. The employers had the privilege of watching the crew pull up Channel Buoy 76 out of the water and on to the ship for inspection and maintenance. Many were shocked at the sheer size of the buoy and the danger of the Service members performing their duties.

Mark Grunberg, of JLL said, “I had very little knowledge of what Service members went through before this trip and I am so glad I was able to be a part of this eye-opening experience.”

The USCGC James Rankin is also designed and equipped to ably perform other Coast Guard missions including homeland security, search and rescue, marine environmental protection, and domestic ice breaking. Employers also got to watch the crew take part in a small ship demonstration. U.S. Coast Guard Station Washington showed their tactics of maintaining a security zone around the USCGC James Rankin and observed them chase a “non-compliant” boat while exercising the use of force spectrum. The employers then ate an authentic lunch in the galley for a true military experience and toured the ship with the sailors.25685226994_60fe6e2ea4_o

Attendees were able to witness the Passing of Washington’s Tomb ceremony as the USCGC James Rankin sailed by Mount Vernon. Music was played as the ship’s bell tolled, and the Ensign flew at half-mast. When the USCGC James Rankin was opposite the tomb, the guard and all persons on deck faced the tomb and saluted while Taps and the National Anthem played.

Ciara Calbert, of the Society for Human Resource Managers, said it was surreal to see Mount Vernon from the Potomac and witness the “awe-inspiring formalities to our great founding-father. It was an experience I will never forget.”

This Boss Lift was the first to have Service members from every branch involved, except for the United States Marine Corps. Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Flowers, District of Columbia National Guard, emphasized that “it’s the capacity to work together that is indicative of success, whether that be military service or civilian.” We strive to have an event in the future that incorporates all branches of service.

ESGR, a Department of Defense program, develops and promotes supportive work environments and relationships for Service members through outreach, recognition, and educational opportunities.

The District’s committee of ESGR would like to give a special thank you to the captain of the USCGC James Rankin, Coast Guard Lt. Lisa De Pace, who graciously hosted the event.

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Photos by Travis Bartholomew, FEPP, Director of Strategic Communication and Public Affairs