RATON, New Mexico (STPNS) -- Current and potential employers of New Mexico National Guard members in northeast New Mexico got a "lift" Friday that allowed them to learn about the importance of the Guard and experience first-hand the training and drills Guard members undergo.
Friday's "Boss Lift" brought the 22 employers and civic leaders from Raton and surrounding communities to Santa Fe aboard a pair of Army Blackhawk helicopters that landed at the Raton High School practice football field early in the morning. After some instructions about their flight, Guard members got their guests loaded into the helicopters and headed south.
In Santa Fe at the Oņate Training Complex, soldiers conducted demonstrations and the visitors got to take part in a number of hands-on activities to experience what the soldiers go through. The activities included rappelling, convoy, live-fire simulations and "combatives," or hand-to-hand combat. Briefings were also held to discuss employee and employer rights regarding people's service in the Guard and time away from their regular full-time civilian jobs.
The Boss Lift was put on by the New Mexico Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), an organization that provides free education, consultation and mediation to employers of Guard and Reserve employees. The ESGR program was expanded this summer to northeast New Mexico.
ESGR's goal is "to support America's employers who share their employees with the nation to ensure our national security." The national program was established 36 years ago to promote cooperation and understanding between members of the National Guard and Reserve and their civilian employers.
Local officials are still seeking volunteers to serve on committees that would carry out ESGR's mission in northeast New Mexico. Anyone interested in assisting or finding out more can call Raton Mayor Pro Tem Jesse James Johnson, who serves as ESGR's northeast New Mexico area chairman. Johnson can be reached at 445-2529.
The ESGR website (www.esgr.org) describes the program's mission as one to "gain and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve service by recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of the law, and resolving conflicts through mediation."
Created in 1972 under the U.S. Department of Defense, ESGR tries to be proactive by emphasizing education so employers are aware of the federal law that prohibits discrimination - such as refusing to hire someone or removing someone from a position - because that person serves in the Guard or Reserve, which requires him to be away from his job at times for training or military service. The education element of ESGR also extends to the members of the Guard and Reserve, so they don't try to take advantage of their employers, according to an ESGR spokesman.
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