You have probably never heard of the organization known as ESGR, but it plays a crucial role in supporting the troops. ESGR stands for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. It is officially a DOD agency, but it relies on a network of nearly 5,000 volunteers around the country who advocate for Guardsmen and Reservists in the civilian workplace.
Officially, its mission statement states, “We will develop and promote employer support for Guard and Reserve service by advocating relevant initiatives, recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of applicable laws, and resolving conflict between employers and service members.”
Unofficially, the ESGR is both cheerleader and teacher, raising awareness among civilian employers about the talent and skills that Guardsmen and Reservists bring with them to a job. According to its 2010 end of year report, there are about 10 million employers out there, but only about 200,000 of them employ citizen soldiers. Complicating employment, of course, is the high deployment rate of Guardsmen and Reservists, who make up almost half of all uniformed servicemen and women. The ESGR’s goal is to convince potential employers that the quality of citizen soldier employees more than makes up for their absence while serving their country.
Another less publicized role of ESGR is to be an advocate for the reserve components within DOD itself. It is a valuable organization working hard to improve the lives – and the lives of the families – of those who serve.
This week has been declared National ESGR week, and the President issued a proclamation announcing the recognition. Here it is in its entirety:
Since September 11, 2001, the 9/11 Generation has borne the burden of war with courage and valor, continuing the legacy of the brave men and women who served before them. More than five million volunteers have worn our country’s uniform over the past 10 years, and thousands have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Making up nearly half of our military power, the National Guard and Reserve are vital to our operations at home and abroad.
During America’s struggle for independence, ordinary individuals in small towns across the colonies banded together to confront an empire. Today, their spirit lives on in the Guard and Reserve. The members of our National Guard and Reserve demonstrate the dignity and selflessness that are at the core of the American spirit. These patriots serve not only in combat, but also when disaster strikes at home, offering a strong hand to victims of floods, tornadoes, and fires across America.
The employers who provide jobs to our Guard and Reserve members when they are home are also vital to our success. Many of these businesses go above and beyond, offering tremendous support to service members and their families during deployments. We are deeply grateful for their work, and this week, we celebrate not only our service members, veterans, and military families, but also their devoted employers.
The extraordinary service of our Guard and Reserve members would not be possible without the unwavering support and care provided by their families and civilian employers. To help connect our service members, veterans, and their families to the opportunities they deserve, the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden announced Joining Forces, a comprehensive national initiative to support and honor these patriots. As part of this initiative, we issued a challenge to private sector employers to hire or train 100,000 unemployed veterans or their spouses. We have also proposed tax credits for businesses that hire our returning heroes — they fought for our country, and the last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they come home.
This week, we remember our obligations to each other, and we pay tribute to the employers of our Guardsmen and Reservists whose support and flexibility is vital to the strength of our military. The United States is at its strongest when we live up to our sacred duty to honor and care for our service members when they come home. The support of employers across our country reflects the best of the American spirit — the understanding that we are bound together to serve and protect our Nation.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 18 through September 24, 2011, as National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week. I call upon all Americans to join me in expressing our heartfelt thanks to the members of the National Guard and Reserve and their civilian employers. I also call on State and local officials, private organizations, and all military commanders, to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.
The thousands of volunteers who work hard every day on behalf of our Guardsmen and Reservists deserve a lot of credit for what they do, and they are our heroes of the week.