Employment Protections Elusive for Returning Vets
By Debbie Gregory.
Where are the transitioning Veteran jobs, National Guard jobs, and Veteran employers that the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) promoted? Despite laws protecting the civilian jobs of National Guard members and reservists, more than 15,000 Service Members since 2001 have had to fight for their employment rights through official complaints that require tedious and sometimes expensive disputes.
In 1973, the DOD adopted the Total Force Policy, which recognized that active and reserve U.S. military forces should be readily available to support military operations. As a result, reserve forces were no longer considered to be forces of last resort; rather, they are now recognized as indispensable to the nation’s defense from the earliest days of a conflict.
The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense office, was established in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee’s military commitment.
The National Guard and Reserve are an integral part of our military. Almost half of the men and women serving in our armed forces are members of the National Guard and Reserve. If you are a member of the National Guard or Reserves, you may be worried about transitioning back into a civilian workplace. Will you return to the same position with the same responsibilities? Will your colleagues understand what you’ve been through and welcome you back? Will your company welcome you back?
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects service members’ reemployment rights when returning from a period of service in the uniformed services, including those called up from the reserves or National Guard, and prohibits employer discrimination based on military service or obligation. Employers are required to provide to persons entitled to rights and benefits under the USERRA, a notice of the rights, benefits and obligations covered under the act.
The federal government provides veterans a means to resolve USERRA complaints, first through the Department of Defense’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, whose volunteers call employers, explain the law and try to resolve the matter. The Department of Labor (DOL-VETS) proudly Serves Veterans & Service Members! They provide resources and expertise to assist and prepare them to obtain meaningful careers, maximize their employment opportunities, and protect their employment rights.