WHAT RESERVISTS WORRY ABOUT |
July 10, 2007
The current meme of the anti-war crowd seems to be that if this really represented a colossal struggle of ideologies the President would have called for some sacrifice on the part of the nation and if he had done that then they would be on board. I admit that I do not understand the psychology of "we will sacrificed if asked, but not before then", but I suppose it makes sense to somebody.
What you should know about though is the people that have made sacrifices without being asked. I am not going to write about the obvious; service members and their families. There are other people making sacrifices at home that you likely know little about.
We have one officer here in the Task Force whose employer paid him his full salary for the first three months of mobilization, and now makes up the difference between his Army pay and his civilian salary. Another officer continues to receive the 401K contribution the company would have made if he had stayed working there. Another friend of mine who deployed before me had an employer that only intended to make up the difference, but continued to pay the full salary while he was gone. When he went to return the money the company told him to forget it.
Of course these are the exceptions, but most employers at least abide by the minimum standards of the law and save a job for a mobilized reservist. They either operate short a person, or they hire a temporary who knows they will only be there for a certain period of time. Many American businesses, their owners, and their employees are sacrificing every day without a specific request from the President. So if you are one of those people, thank you for your sacrifice.
Unfortunately some people have had problems. Like LTC Debra Muhl, USAFR, who worked at Sutter Health Care in California. When LTC Muhl informed her boss that she was being mobilized he became "visibly angry". Two days after she notified him of her impending deployment, he allegedly told her that she would not have a job when she returned from the desert. The company has given an economic reason for her termination, but given the timing, it certainly looks pre-textual. Maybe if the President had asked Sutter Health to sacrifice this would not be a problem...
This has to concern all Reservists. No matter what the law states, if an employer violates it, the burden is on the employee to call the employer to account. That involves legal fees, heartache, and acid indigestion.
I wonder how difficult it is going to be for me to find a job when I leave here. Some young officers I know have asked if they should just not mention their service. I point out that it is difficult to hide more than a year of your life spent in Iraq. I will of course mention it, not just because it is necessary, but because I am proud of the fact that I have been here. If you don't value that as an employer, then you don't want me as an employee.
On the national level, a serious conversation needs to be had about how we organize our Armed Forces, both active and reserve. What was right for the Cold War may not be right for the war on terror. On the individual level, we should recognize those employers and those employees that shoulder extra burdens at home so we can deploy, and we should help every reservist return to a good job.