Posted on Dec 3, 2013
CPT Company Commander
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As much as the National Guard and Reserves have been serving they have been put in chaotic employment situations. Some employers are hostile to their employees but mask it by terminating for other reasons. I have had to leave a job due to this. This make membership in the NG or Reserves extremely difficult especially when you support a family. I have had one employer terminate me; not realizing it was illegal. After some assistance from the ESGR the situation was corrected. You could imagine what it is going to be like when I return there.

Many of us being in the National Guard or the Reserved how do you deal with this? Is this something that you have thought about before joining the Guard or Reserves? Have you had issues with this? Did you leave the military all together due to this? I can say that our retention in the Guard suffers for this reason. I have seen some awesome soldiers leave the Guard due to how it limits their potential in the civilian work force.
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Edited >1 y ago
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MAJ Commander
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I have seen a sea change in how the National Guard is viewed by employers.  I was shocked the first time one of my Soldiers came to me and asked if he had to disclose his Guard status on a resume.  We have come from the point where NG service was a point of pride to a point of apprehension.  I believe there are a number of reasons for this.

The first problem is that National Guardsmen have very stiff competition from Veterans.  Competition you say?  Indeed.  Imagine you are an employer:  Patriotic, God Fearing, Apple-Pie eating employer, with one of those "Support the Troops" bumper stickers.  How much are you going to pay to back up those words on that bumper sticker?  If you hire a Guardsman, you hire the liability of potential future deployments, uncertain availability, potential for additional training, etc.  Meanwhile, you can hire a Veteran, get all those military skills, take advantage of the warm glow of patriotism, and not risk losing an employee for two weeks out of the year.

Unfortunately, Guard service has the effect of narrowing employment options.  Small companies will not be able to effectively employ Guardsmen.  I experienced this at a small company where I worked as an account manager.  If I went away, someone had to take my clients.  When I returned, the clients might just not want to work with the old guy anymore.  New clients are not going to be assigned to the manager with the least reliability.  

Fundamentally, an employer makes an employment decision based on risk vs. reward.  How much risk will I incur in hiring, training, and potentially losing an employee vs. how much value can he employee return?  Applicants need to address this equation by directly addressing perceived and real liabilities vs. concrete advantages and unique value the prospective employee can bring.

Now here's the golden question:

How do YOU, a Guardsman, differentiate the unique value and advantage YOU bring to an employer vs. a Veteran whose service obligation is complete?  If you can answer that question, you will have an advantage in the hiring process and can probably also go on the lecture circuit.  
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CPT Company Commander
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You bring up a very good point. I believe we suffer the worst.
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CPT Assistant Operations Officer (S3)
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Your not alone LT, but I will share my experiences and some things I have done. <br><br>1) To first talk about your current employer. Many employers have the "one weekend a month two weeks a year" mentality, as an officer or senior NCO it's more than that. Employers want to know in advance and here is why. You manager can schedule around training if they know well in advanced. <br><br>If they won't budge, hit them with orders if your in, they try to fire you while your in training and that will be a nightmare they don't want. Not something I recommend though. But if in that situation start looking for a new job, because they will find a way to let you go.<br><br>I had a manager that anything other than AT he would always come back with the "I thought this was 1 weekend a month and 2 weeks a year", and then say he supports the military. He doesn't and you and I know that. It's one reason I left.<br><br>My current company is more supportive but I do let them know in advance of training because for managers it's about scheduling.<br><br>2) As a new LT your career path and you wear the blue chord like I do. (Well my pic was for the promotion board but I wear one.....LOL).<br><br>1) IOBC. (I did BOLC 2,3, but I think it's 16 weeks again)<br>2) Maneuver Career Course. (reserve component (2) 2 week phases)<br>3) Army War College (1 year)<br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; -- ILE for majors was implemented into AWC<br><br>I didn't even mention airborne, air-assault, ranger school, or combatives 1,2,3 which everybody wants to do. (hooaah stuff)<br><br>3) Some things that you can do with additional training listed above. <br><br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; a) Use your vacation time on top of schools. I did this in January for my TCC (Tactics Certification Course) which was a week long. I gave my manager my orders anyways but I was technically on vacation. The good part doing this is you get double paid (double dipping).<br><br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; b) Plan and space things out. Too many schools can look like you never there, but space them out and you will be seen as always on the job, with some military training. They will find a way if they want to get rid of you. Don't give them a reason.<br><br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; c) Know the deadlines of your projects and space schools around dead time. You don't want to kill the good graces of your employer and burn bridges by scheduling schools near a deadline where they NEED you. That is a recipe for disaster.<br>
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MAJ Contracting Officer
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They don't fire you they just make your life so miserable that you want to quit. I sold out and work for the Federal Government now, strangely enough my first supervisor told me "if I would have known you were a reservist I wouldn't have hired you," needless to say I don't work there anymore. The law is a sad joke with no teeth, and yes retention (only the really good soldiers though) suffers.
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MAJ Executive Officer
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I am sorry that you are going this, and I am lucky to say that my employer has always been supportive. However, this is a HUGE issue with the USAR/NG, especially with the "operational" reserve which our leaders desire. It's a tough sell to tell employers that, on pain of litigation, they must suffer through the caprice of the services. In the 75 months that I've served, I've been gone for 24 I've been gone for 6 months, 4 months, and 14 months at a time. They have started to ask for documentation for things such as the Commander's and 1SG's Course, which I took in June. Who can blame them? It isn't easy finding a replacement, even if it's just for a week. They also don't understand why the Army doesn't just schedule me for training in the summer (I'm a teacher). 

All of this is to say that I've been blessed, but my school is getting annoyed. While they can't really do too much about it, they are the employer who pays my bills. It's an interesting calculus we have to play. Good luck. 
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COL Vincent Stoneking
COL Vincent Stoneking
>1 y
CPT Krogh, 
Good perspective on what the employer sees. 
One word of caution, echoing CPT Bazillion's comment. There is nothing they can do in a direct, straightforward manner. This is true enough.  HOWEVER, there is a whole lot of grey in the work world. There are "randomly assigned shifts" that aren't all that random. There are errors found in documents that could be overlooked, verbally commented on, written up. There are 1001 other things that "have nothing to do with his military service, which I fully support...." 

My current employer (of 15 years in a few weeks) is VERY supportive. It is also a relatively large organization (so it can absorb the loss of any few people pretty easily by shuffling duties a bit) AND my boss is a retired LTC....

However, I have had soldiers that had to deal with "coincidences" that led to the job being less pleasant or less $$$ (think a waitress who starts getting Tuesday and Wednesday shifts instead of Friday/Saturday, same for a pizza delivery driver). I had a similar experience with by previous employer. They made it very clear that they were going to comply with the law, but there was no reason I couldn't open the store the morning following my return, and it was only natural that I would work several double shifts in the weeks following AT, because "the other managers had to work extra while you were playing Army."
In my case, they actually left voicemail to that effect, so I would have had a solid case, if I chose to pursue. I chose to quit in an unprofessional, but very personally satisfying manner. 

Oddly, to me, I hear that the Federal Government is one of the biggest black & white offenders. 



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