Samuel F. Wright

Captain, JAGC, USN (Ret.)
Director, Service Members Law Center
(800) 809-9448, ext. 730
Email: swright@roa.org
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Law Review 1166



Law Review 1166

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve

By Captain Samuel F. Wright, JAGC, USN (Ret.)

Q:  I am a Specialist in the Army National Guard.  My civilian employer has been giving me a hard time about time away from work for my drill weekends and annual training and about the possibility that I may be mobilized.  I told my First Sergeant about this problem, and he told me to “call ESGR.”  What is ESGR?

A:  ESGR is the abbreviation for Headquarters Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense (DOD) organization founded in 1972.  Here is the mission and strategy of ESGR:

Customers:

·        All Employers

·        All Uniformed Service Members 

·        Families of affected Service Members

Stakeholders:

·        Congress and State and Territory Governors 

·        Department of Defense

·        Department of Homeland Security

·        Department of Labor

·        Uniformed Services 

Goals:

1.   Gain and maintain support from employers of Guard and Reserve Service Members

2.   Educate customers and stakeholders

3.   Advocate within DoD for RC employers

4.   Continue to refine the ESGR organization for relevancy, effectiveness, and efficiency

5.   Advocate for employer issues of military families

6.   Facilitate employment transitions relating to the continuum of military service

7.   Enhance Brand awareness of ESGR to all customers and stakeholders

(Note:  The above material was copied directly from the ESGR website, www.esgr.mil.)

ESGR operates primarily through a network of volunteers around the country, with a state committee in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, and Guam-Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. 

ESGR operates primarily in three ways. Through state and national awards, up to the prestigious Freedom Award, ESGR honors employers (public and private sector) that go above and beyond the requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) in supporting employees who are members of the National Guard and Reserve.  Through “bosslifts” offering a glimpse into a day in the life of a military member, briefings, job fairs, and other means, ESGR communicates to employers about the important contribution that the Guard and Reserve make to national defense and the need for employer support to make this critical contribution possible. Through Ombudsman Services, ESGR communicates with service members and employers the requirements of USERRA facilitating cooperation and compliance, seeking to resolve issues and misunderstandings using informal mediation, before they become big problems or result in litigation.

Q:  How do I reach ESGR?

A:  ESGR has a comprehensive website, at www.esgr.mil.  You can use that website to submit an inquiry or make a complaint about your civilian employer, concerning your National Guard or Reserve service.  Alternatively, you can request ESGR assistance by sending an e-mail to userra@osd.mil. 

You can reach ESGR toll-free at 800-336-4590, Option 1.  Case managers are available between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern Time Monday-Friday, except federal holidays.  If you need to reach ESGR outside those hours, send an e-mail and provide your home telephone number or your personal cell phone and an appropriate time for ESGR to call you. You may also leave a voice message. ESGR will call you within 24 hours, or the next business day.

It is recommended that you use your own computer, a home phone or personal cell phone, rather than your employer’s resources, to communicate with ESGR or anyone else about your employer or to request assistance in dealing with your employer.  If you cannot afford a computer and Internet access at home, a local public library in another option.