published: Sunday, December 23, 2012
Support available for military veterans
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
SEBRING -- Donald "Bud" Wallen sat down with the News-Sun for a conversation on Friday. He is a volunteer with Employer Support of Guard and Reserve, known by its initials as ESGR. Very few members of the reserves or national guard know about the organization, Wallen said, and he wants to change that.
Created by the Department of Defense, ESGR is designed to help the reservists and guardsmen called to active duty or serving their monthly and annual obligations -- and their spouses -- who are having difficulty with their civilian employers.
Problems for the part-time soldiers and their families grew after 9/11, Wallen said, because so many were called to active duty for significant periods of time.
"In the beginning, many employers were firing them," Wallen said. "And there was no one to explain the laws protecting reservists and guardsmen to those employers, or speak to them on behalf of the employees."
The ESGR provides an ombudsman to work out any difficulties.
In addition, in March of 2012 the ESGR joined with the National Chamber of Commerce Foundation and Capital One for their H2H program -- Heroes 2 Hire -- a coordinated effort to secure 500,000 employment commitments for veterans of all kinds. In 2012, H2H's goal was to hold 400 job fairs -- also open to husbands and wives of veterans.
The fairs bring business and job seekers together.
Wallen said most employers are understanding and supportive. Some even go out of their way. Those outstanding businesses are honored as Patriotic Employers.
"Tom Dettman (Sebring Police Chief) and Susan Benton (Highlands County sheriff) have both been honored as Patriotic Employers," Wallen said. "That means they look for vets, reservists or guards to hire."
The next job fair close to Highlands County is Jan. 13 in Tampa.
Small Banner Ads