ESGR Gathers for Annual National Leadership Meeting
By Julie Weckerlein, ESGR Public Affairs and Sgt. 1st Class Zach Sheely, National Guard Bureau
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Dozens of state committee leaders, volunteers, and staff of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) gathered at the Mark Center for the 2022 Annual National Leadership Meeting (NLM) November 17 and 18, to honor the office's 50th anniversary and address important issues relevant to the ESGR mission.
This year marked the first in-person NLM since the COVID pandemic began in 2020. State Committee chairs and volunteers who could not attend in person also joined virtually, allowing the large group to discuss ESGR matters such as budget, the ombudsmen program, awards and other employer recognition efforts, and more.
“The NLM allows us to sustain a level of readiness for the Guard and Reserve to respond as the mission requires,” said U.S. Navy Reserve Capt. Robbie Underhill, ESGR Executive Director. “More than 3,000 volunteers serve on ESGR State Committees, recognizing employers who go above and beyond in their dedication to employees who pledge to be both a citizen and protector of our Nation. So, it’s important for all of us to have this opportunity to come together, hear how things are going out in the field, and brainstorm and collaborate ways to ensure ESGR continues to support those who need it.”
Throughout the last 50 years, the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program has provided a conduit between reserve component service members and their employers.
ESGR, a Department of Defense office, established in 1972 promotes cooperation and understanding between reserve component service members and their civilian employers to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee's military commitment.
Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Daniel Hokanson, addressed the NLM as well, and said, “Thank you for everything you do that makes it possible for us to maintain that balance between our families, our civilian careers, and our military service. ESGR is a very important part of that – that balance empowers everything we do.”
Hokanson emphasized that over the last two years, tens of thousands of Guardsmen have served during COVID response operations across the 54 states, and territories. Guardsmen are on continuous standby, ready to help their communities during natural disasters.
He highlighted the Department of Defense National Guard State Partnership Program that pairs National Guard elements with nearly half the world’s nations. Hokanson also discussed the support the Guard continues to provide to Ukraine, as well as other important worldwide deployments.
“Over the past 50 years, you’ve changed the culture and the conversation around our service members,” Hokanson said. “This is especially true for the volunteers who take on so many different roles to make this work possible.”