The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), Texas Chapter, along with several Guard and Reserve employers of the Coastal Bend united at the Naval Air Station-Corpus Christi on Friday, Dec. 20 to sign a special agreement reaffirming employer support of their Service member employees.

ESGR was established in 1972 to forge the bridge between Service members and their employers, and to promote cooperation and understanding between them. The document signed on Friday further establishes that cooperation between employers and Service members of the Coastal Bend.

"This document reinforces just how important the support of an employer is when a Reservist is called to active duty, to serve his country. This statement of support reinforces that we couldn't do it without the support of the employers." said Jesus Rodriguez, Area Chair 3 for Texas ESGR. "They're a very key part in the Serviceman being able to perform his job, knowing that at home his employer supports him. That's a good feeling."

According to Victor Ortiz, Director to the Southern Region of ESGR, the document states that the employer openly agrees to support the Service members working for them. When members of the National Guard or Reserves are called to active duty, or even to annual training, the employer is promising to the Service men and women that a job will still be there upon their return.

"Also, if they get seriously enough injured, when they come back, the employer will make sure that they will have a job in keeping with their dignity and the level of injury that they have," said Ortiz. "The employer is going to guarantee that. That's what the employer is saying by signing that statement of support."

After ESGR was established in 1972, further problems persisted with communications between employers and their Service member employees. This lead to the The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) of 1994. The United States Department of Labor states that the 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.

Currently, 45-50 thousand Guardsman and Reservists are deployed around the world. Locally, those numbers affect the employers significantly.

"Just in our main office of eight people, six of them are either veterans or active Guard or Reserve members. In this area, probably 20-30 percent of our workforce is a veteran or an active Guard member," said Larry Atteberry, Area Manager for AlliedBarton Security Services.

Atteberry recognizes the value of employing Guard and Reserve members into his workforce, with each of them bringing a trained skill set provided by their work in the Service.

"It's a win-win situation for everybody. In the security business, veterans or reservists have the job skills we're looking for," said Atteberry.

AlliedBarton Security Services represents just one of the hundreds of employers of Service members in the Coastal Bend, once again highlighting the importance of the USERRA, and the further acknowledgement of that act.

"Signing the agreement with the ESGR is us dedicating our support to our troops, our National Guard, our Reservists, our veterans, to let them know that we'll do what we can to make sure that we can find a job for them; that we can employee them," said Atteberry. "We want to let them know that when they come back from being deployed, or even from their weekend drill or two weeks a year, their coming back to a job."