Reservists' Families Get Help From Local Group

By: Jarrod Aldom
By: Jarrod Aldom

There's a little known group in Virginia that helps families of reservists and national guardsmen called to duty.

Reservists and guardsmen are facing life and death in Iraq. Bill Boyd of Trans Print USA said the least their employers can do is take care of the families at home. As a former member of the employer support for the guard and reserve, or ESGR, that's exactly what he's done.

"They continue on as if they were still here," said Bill Boyd, President of TransPrint USA. "We would make up the difference in any compensation. We would also carry the medical insurance for their family."

By law, reservists have certain rights when they return from duty.

"They have the right to get their original job back at the same or better level that they had when they left with all the increment increases in salary," explained Francis Bell, chairman of the Virginia ESGR.

All state agencies are also required to make up the difference between military pay and the employee's salary. But private businesses are not. That's where the ESGR comes in.

"We try to tell the guard and reservists during peacetime what they should do in relation to their employer to keep good relations, and then we'd go to the employers and tell them what their opportunities are to help," explained Bell.

The ESGR sponsors trips to military bases to show employers what reservists are going through.

"It's excellent," said Boyd. "It gives an opportunity for those who haven't served in the military to get a hands-on connection with them."

Bell said while the laws protect reservists' jobs, they're hard on some small companies that have to replace workers.

"They have to tell that person, ‘when Joe comes home from duty, he gets his job back,’" explained Bell. "That's a real problem."

JMU, county agencies and the city also compensate employees for wages lost while serving in the military.

50 North Main Street Harrisonburg, VA 22801 540-433-9191 - Switchboard 540-433- 4028 - Fax 540-433-2700 - News Fax

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