Recently I was contacted by Kaitlin Durkosh she works with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve organization (ESGR), a Department of Defense agency that advocates supportive initiatives for the Guard and Reserve community. She wanted me to tell all my readers about these incredible opportunities for Guard and Reserve Families. friendships in the work place have helped the spouses of Guard and Reservists cope with deployment challenges. Nearly one-half of the U.S. military is comprised of the Guard and Reserve, and Guard and Reserve spouses hold a unique position in the military community.Unlike their active duty counterparts, Guard and Reserve spouses often don’t have the support of a base community and other spouses who are facing similar challenges. They can feel very isolated and alone. With the tremendous role Guard and Reservists play in fighting our wars, civilians serve too – in providing these spouses with critical support networks
After the Department of Defense’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) program expanded its Patriot Award for supportive employers of Guard and Reserve members to include the employers of their spouses, nominations poured in from around the country.
Employers have no legal obligation to provide military spouses with unique support as they do with Guard and Reserve members, but spouses share the challenges of military service. Spouses must rearrange childcare, household chores, and work schedules all while enduring the absence of their loved ones.
Here are three stories of employers who have gone above and beyond in supporting military spouse.
Johnson and Johnson rallied around Kimberly Marcopul, a mother of three from Pennsylvania, when her Army Reservist husband deployed to Kuwait for a year.
After learning of her husband’s impending deployment, Kimberly’s supervisor allowed her to take a week’s vacation to spend time with her family, as well as a second week of vacation just before he left the country. While her husband was deployed, Kimberly’s supervisor allowed her to work remotely whenever her children needed her at home. Her officemates also developed a schedule whereby they prepared dinners for Kimberly and her family.
HealthPro Management provided critical support to Danielle Kaloudis, a military spouse from Spencer, Mass. Danielle, who has two young children, has been through three deployments and never received the kind of support from an employer that she has received at HealthPro Management. Danielle’s supervisor quietly met with the HR department to ask if she could donate some of her vacation time to Danielle over the holidays when her husband was home on leave, as Danielle hadn’t yet accrued enough to spend quality time with him. Two other co-workers did the same. In the end, Danielle had five days to spend with her husband while he was on leave over the holidays. When he returned to Afghanistan, her boss donated another 16 hours so Danielle could ready the kids and house for his absence.
Idaho National Laboratory Director of Communications Amy Rene Lientz did everything she could to support her employee Michelle Blacker of Idaho Falls, Idaho when Michelle learned she would be separated from her husband for nearly a year and a half due to training and an upcoming deployment. Michelle’s supervisor arranged for Michelle to telecommute for nearly six months while her husband was in Oklahoma to attend Field Artillery Officer Basic Course. Telecommuting agreements are only put in place for special need situations and can be inconvenient for the team. Yet Michelle’s manager never looked at the situation as inconvenient. Idaho National Laboratory even paid for Michelle to fly back to Idaho every six weeks to be on-site to stay connected to her team. Michelle and her husband had offered to pay this expense themselves, but Amy supported her by offering to pay for it. Later, when her husband was deployed, Michelle gave birth prematurely. This meant that Michelle had to go on maternity leave earlier than expected, and would only be returning on a part-time basis to take care of her child. She said, “I remember calling my boss when the baby was born early and she said, take all the time you need, we understand.”
About ESGREmployer Support of the Guard and Reserve is a Department of Defense agency established in 1972 to develop and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve service. ESGR advocates relevant initiatives, recognizes outstanding support, increases awareness of applicable laws, and resolves conflict between service members and employers. Paramount to ESGR’s mission is encouraging employment of Guardsmen and Reservists who bring integrity, global perspective and proven leadership to the civilian workforce. For more information about ESGR Outreach Programs, or ESGR volunteer opportunities, please call 1-800-336-4590 or visit www.ESGR.mil.