National Guard show sky-high appreciation for employers of servicemen & women

Published: Sep. 29, 2023 at 6:12 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Those who serve in the National Guard and Reserve make frequent sacrifices, but so do their civilian employers.

“Here at the Maine Air Guard, we have about 800 people here in the wing, and of that, we have about 360 that are full-time members, but the rest are Drill Status Guardsmen,” explains Col. Ian Gillis, Wing Commander at the 101st Air Refueling Wing, of the event. “And so, our airmen that are doing missions are also their employees.”

Maine Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) were also present at the base, as they act as a mediator to ensure fairness and legality between servicemen and women and their civilian employers.

“Sometimes, when the service member needs to wear his or her military hat, it may not be a great time for the civilian employer. So, there’s this relationship there that civilian employer and the employee need to understand that sometimes they’re short notice, but the benefit of having the military member in the civilian employers’ business is just so great,” says ESGR Vice Chair Nichi Farnham.

“Our airmen are asked to deploy to anywhere from a 45-day deployment to a six-month deployment. You can imagine that your employee comes in and says, ‘Hey, in three months, I’m gonna have to leave.’ That’s a burden on the employer, so, you know, we want to say thanks for allowing their members to serve and give them the flexibility to go in and serve,” comments Col. Gillis about the importance of recognizing employers’ support.

To show their appreciation, the 101st Air Refueling Wing invited employers on a flight tour and briefing to witness first-hand what their employees do at the base.

“It’s pretty amazing to see what those pilots can do,” says Jeff Fumia, Branch Manager at Crown, an invited employer company. “The big takeaway for today is that the relationship between the military, the National Guard, and the employers that help to employ these people. They spend time away from work and family to support our country and what we work so hard for and what we live for. So, it’s just something that’s nice to be given back.”