April 1, 2003
Posted at: 9:00 p.m. CST
JONESBORO, Ark. -- With American military resources being committed to various regions across the globe, a large amount of National Guardmen and Reservists have been called up from Region 8.
Almost 900 guardsmen have been called up by the Arkansas and Missouri National Guards to take part in various operations. Units include the 875th Engineering Battallion of Jonesboro; the 224th Maintenance Company of Mountain Home; the 1137th, 1138th, and 216th Military Police Companies from Kennett, West Plains, and West Memphis respectivley; and the 1123rd Transportation Company from Marked Tree.
Some of these call-ups could last for up to a year. What about the jobs and careers of the guardsmen when they come home? In 1994, the government passed the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. The act provides regulations for active and reserve national guard members and their current employers to help deployed soldiers stay on the payroll when they get home.
For the past nine years, the Employer's Support of the Guard and Reserve organization has helped enforce the USERR Act of 1994.
"The law has certain requirements on the employer and certain expectations on the part of the reserveist," Dr. Dennis White, a local ESGR member said.
Jerry Goff served in the Gulf War in 1991. Currently he works for Sears and he is a member of the 875th Engineering Batallion based in Jonesboro. He was one of the few in the troop that didn't get deployed on March 29. But he still followed the the USERR regualtions.
"It's our responsiblity to notify our employer when we get called up," Goff said. "(We) show orders that we were put on active duty."
The USERR states that an employer is required to keep a deployed soldier's job availiable for when they return. But at Sears stores nationwide, they are doing more than just that.
"Not only will Sears offer the employees job back when they return," Jeanie Pechilis, manager of the local Sears said. "But we also pay the difference in salaries and maintain their benefits such as medical insurance and any bonus programs for up to two years."
No matter where a deployed soldier is employed, the act also calls for a prompt return to work when service is completed.
"The reason that the employer is free to have an business, run a business, and have a profit is because of the soldiers that have fought or are fighting right now to keep this country free," White said.