As always, I found Ms. Clarke's comments to be very insightful and interesting. (See "Questions for Servicemen and Reservists"). While her observations regarding what servicemen and women face upon returning home from a conflict are more than likely indicative of the norm, I'd like to clarify the nature of the document which Gov. Charles W. Turnbull recently signed.
The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve's Statement of Support pledges four things:
1. Employment will not be denied because of service in the Guard or Reserve;
2. Employee job and career opportunities will not be limited or reduced because of service in the Guard and Reserve;
3. Employees will be granted leaves of absence for military service in the Guard and Reserve, consistent with existing laws, without sacrifice of vacation and;
4. This agreement and its resultant policies will be made known throughout our organization.
Via his signature on the Statement of Support, Gov. Turnbull has pledged that the Government of the Virgin Islands will live up to these four items.
However, the Government of the Virgin Islands, as an employer of Guard and Reserve members, has implemented the extraordinary measure of ensuring that their employees do not lose any wages during their time of service. As you may be aware, many service members are paid at a lower rate during their military service as opposed to their civilian employment.
I am personally aware that our deployed service members who work for the Government of the Virgin Islands are receiving their differential pay and have assisted a number of offices and departments in understanding and implementing the law. Through its support of its employees, and by extension their families, the Government of the Virgin Islands is leading the way by example, rather than by lip service.
However, it is incumbent upon each employer to not only follow the Federal law which governs their employees called to active duty, but to find a methods by which they can support their employees during their time of service.
In March V.I. ESGR, in conjunction with the Navy League of St. Thomas/St. John and the Chamber of Commerce, presented awards to 23 employers who went above and beyond in their support of their employees who were enlisted in the Guard and Reserve.
We are extremely fortunate to have employers in the territory who realize that the person deployed is not just a service member, but that the person is a friend, a neighbor, a parent, a brother or a sister. During my 18 months with ESGR I have traveled across this country and I can tell you, that is not always the case.
By way of information, Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) is a Department of Defense organization. It is a staff group within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs (OASD/RA), which is in itself a part of the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
ESGR was established in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve component members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee's military commitment. It is the lead DoD organization for this mission under DoD Directive 1250.1. Today, ESGR operates through a network of hundreds of volunteers throughout the nation and Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Europe.
I hope this clarifies the nature of the support which Gov. Turnbull's administration has pledged for his employees who are members of the Guard and Reserve. I invite anyone with any questions regarding ESGR to contact me at (340)712-7748.
Emmett Hansen II
VI-ESGR Executive Director
Hansen Responds to Clarke
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