Janesville56.3°

Employers must know soldiers' rights

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ANN MARIE AMES
May 29, 2008
— He won’t deploy with Company A of the 132nd Brigade Support Battalion.

But the work skills of one young Rock County man will be missed next year along with those of the 3,400 Wisconsin National Guard soldiers likely to head overseas next spring.


The Wisconsin Army National Guard and volunteers with Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve hosted a briefing for local employers Wednesday night at the National Guard Armory, 11 S. Palmer Drive, Janesville, home of Company A.


Prior to the briefing, Austen Wiedel, a 2007 graduate of Evansville High School, enlisted in the Guard front of a small group of soldiers, citizens and local media.


No employers attended the briefing.


While his mom snapped pictures, Wiedel, 19, quietly swore to defend the nation and uphold the Constitution. In January, he will leave work at R.A. Heating & Air Conditioning, 598 Water St., Evansville, to attend basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.


Wiedel will train to be a helicopter mechanic and will be based with a unit in Tucson, Ariz., he said.


Company A has known for several months it will be deployed in February or March, said Capt. Chad Simandl, the unit commander. The unit is made of more than 100 soldiers from across Wisconsin, he said.


Company A does not know exactly when or where it will be deployed, Simandl said, but the planned deployment is part of a much larger mobilization of 3,400 member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 32nd Brigade Combat Team, Mike Hallquist of the ESGR previously told The Janesville Gazette.


The expected deployment would be the largest deployment of any Wisconsin unit since World War II, Hallquist said.


That’s a big dent out of Wisconsin’s workforce, which is what prompted Wednesday’s briefing and those planned in other communities. Volunteers with ESGR want employers to know what to expect if an employee is deployed, ESGR volunteer Chris Campbell said.


The group also protects the workplace rights of deployed soldiers, he said.


When Guard members voluntarily or involuntarily are deployed, they have the right to return to their jobs with the same seniority and same benefits they had when they left, Campbell said.


Employers are entitled to have plenty of notice before a soldier is deployed and to have that man or woman return promptly to work, Campbell said.


Employers can contact ESGR by calling 1-800-336-4590 or by visiting www.esgr.mil.


Events such as Wednesday’s briefing can help employers “deal without (their) soldiers,” Simandl said.


It is also a way to thank employers, he said.


“A lot of employers really bend over backwards for soldiers,” Simandl said. “I have yet to have any kind of problem between soldiers and employers.”


TO LEARN MORE

Members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard and volunteers with Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve hosted a briefing Wednesday night to help employers understand the laws when their employees are deployed with the military.


To learn more, contact ESGR by calling 1-800-336-4590 or by visiting www.esgr.mil.



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