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Making the transition

ESGR mission explained to Fort Dodge business community

September 19, 2012
By BILL SHEA ( , Messenger News

Members of the military reserves, the National Guard and veterans have a reputation for possessing technical knowhow and leadership skills that are sought by civilian employers.

But they also have a tendency to speak in military jargon, and those in the reserves and National Guard have service obligations that may scare off prospective employers.

Helping to bridge the gap between reservists, National Guard members and civilian employers is the job of a group called Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).

Article Photos

Employee Support of the Guard and Reserve director Becky Coady speaks during a seminar Tuesday at the Air National Guard building in Fort Dodge.

Iowa leaders of that organization came to Fort Dodge Tuesday to talk with business leaders about the advantages of hiring citizen soldiers.

''They're an extremely viable work force, a skilled work force,'' said Becky Coady, the director of the state branch of the ESGR.

Certain aspects of the relationship between a citizen soldier and an employer are governed by a federal law called the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act. ESGR investigates alleged violations of that law.

''Employers do a great job in Iowa,'' Coady said. ''We really don't have a lot of complaints compared to other states.''

She added that volunteer ESGR mediators work with employees and employers when there are complaints.

''They do a fantastic job working cases for us,'' Coady said.

The work of ESGR and job search help for service members was explained during a nearly four hour session held Tuesday at the headquarters of the 133rd Test Squadron located near Fort Dodge Regional Airport. About 40 people attended.

Coady said ESGR was established in 1972 when the draft ended and the American military became an all-volunteer force.

She said the organization develops relationships with civilian employers by conducting training sessions that educate managers on the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. She added that the group takes those managers to military bases to see their workers when they're on active duty through a program called Boss Lift.

ESGR also makes contact with National Guard and reserve units to explain to service members what their responsibilities are to their employers, according to Coady. The group encourages the troops to nominate employers who are especially supportive for awards presented by ESGR.

According to Coady, ESGR is seeking volunteers to work in Calhoun, Humboldt, Pocahontas and Sac counties.

Shawn Hippen, the Iowa adviser for the National Guard Job Connection Education Program, explained how that entity helps troops look for civilian work.

''We are physically hands on from the day they call and say they need help,'' he said.

Hippen said service members have wide range of technical skills. He said even infantrymen have lots of experience with radios and sensors.

The event was held at the base of a squadron that tests communications, radar and other high technology gear for all branches of the military.

''We are the only ones that test that gear prior to it hitting the battlefield,'' said Master Sgt. Randy Davis.

He said the squadron had a local economic impact of $521,885 last year.



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