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Awards given by Bergen Employer Support of the National Guard and Reserve chapter

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

SHOUT OUT: As part of its mission to raise awareness and support for our reservists, the Bergen chapter of Employer Support of the National Guard and Reserve (ESGR) recently recognized Weir Welding of Carlstadt on behalf of one its employees, SPC Chad Little, a U.S. Army reservist who is currently deployed in the Middle East.

PHOTO: Tom Weir, Allison Forys, and Charlie Weir of Weir Welding

ESGR gave them its Above and Beyond and Patriot Awards “to publicly recognize American employers providing extraordinary support and cooperation to their employees, who like the citizen warriors before them, have answered their nation’s call to serve,” the organization said.

“Supportive employers are critical to maintaining the strength and readiness of the nation’s Guard and Reserve units,” ESGR said in a release. “Examples of an employer providing above and beyond support include differential pay or full pay to offset the loss of wages when a service member is mobilized or extending health benefits to complement coverage provided by the military.”

Little, a welder/fitter with Weir, has been stationed the past six months in Bagram, Afghanistan, as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. He’s due home in early fall.

ESGR, a Department of Defense agency, was established in 1972 to provide free education, consultation, and, if necessary, mediation between business owners and employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve.

The all-volunteer group aims to show business owners the benefits of hiring guardsmen and reservists, who “bring integrity, global perspective and proven leadership to the civilian workforce,” said Leo P. McGuire, chairman of Bergen County’s ESGR.

McGuire, a former Bergen County sheriff, hosts bi-monthly meetings with his team “to support troops and their employers, as well as try to connect troops with jobs.”

Nationwide, the community-based organization has an estimated 4,500 members in every state, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

However, McGuire said he is “always looking for quality people to join the team.”

More than 1 million reservists today make up a full half of all U.S. armed forces, according to the ESGR. As a result, they are often away from their homes, families — and jobs — for extended stretches.

Employers, in turn, are being asked to sustain a much greater level of employee absence and related consequences.

ESGR helps both sides understand the upside of hiring guardsmen and reservists, as well as what each employee’s individual rights are. It underscores the specialized skill sets brought by reservists that ordinarily aren’t found in the workplace.

The local committees are made up of business executives, civic leaders, educators, retired and active military personnel, and concerned citizens.

Among the ESGR’s many programs is “Bosslift,” which brings employees and supervisors to the Teaneck Armory and military training sites to provide “a better understanding of what their reservists do.”

Reservists can also nominate their employers for recognition as “My Boss is a Patriot,” among other programs.

MORE: www.njesgr.org

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