HELENA, Mont. – It’s not everyday employers of Montana’s Guard and Reserve members are able to board a Montana Army National Guard UH-60 black Hawk or Ch-47 Chinook and fly across Montana to a local town two hours away. However, for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) boss lift program, employers do just that. ESGR, an office of the Department of Defense offers current employers of Guard and Reserve members, and community influencers the opportunity to take part in a Montana Army Guard mission.
In Montana, ESGR offers Army National Guard all -day flights for about eight employers to fly from the Montana Army National Guard 1-189th General Aviation Support Battalion (189th GSAB) in Helena or Billings Army Aviation Support Facility to local towns. Employers and supervisors see firsthand the type and quality of military training and leadership activities National Guard and Reserve members receive while they are away from their civilian occupation for duty with their military units.
“The mission of ESGR is two-fold because boss lifts give the employer a chance to fly and experience a flying mission. It also gives ESGR an opportunity to say thanks to all the employers who attend and show their support to the Guard and Reserve Members,” stated Mike Flaherty, Montana ESGR Boss lift coordinator.
Once on the ground at the second location, employers receive informational briefings from Montana ESGR volunteers, the air crews, and local Army Guard or Reserve members, and Montana air National Guard members.
Bosses and local community members of influence, learn more about the Uniformed Services Employment, Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). ESGR is a resource for employers with a designated help line for both service members and employers at 1-800—336-4590 Option 1 or visit https://www.esgr.mil/About-ESGR/Contact/Local-State-Pages to find your state’s local office.
In between flights, unit members showcase their specialized equipment and give the employers a rundown on their mission and training. The aircrews enjoy flying with the employers and ESGR. Each flight is a training mission for the crews allowing them to gain hours in the seat training and working their skills in loading and offloading passengers during a mission. Flights are usually not like a commercial flight, with crews flying a Nap-of-the-earth (NOE). This is a type of very low-altitude flight course used by military aircraft to avoid enemy detection and attack in a high-threat environment.
And to top it all off, bosses receive an MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) with a service member ready to show them how to best heat and eat the meal on site. MRE’s are self-contained individual military rations used by the Department of Defense during trainings or missions. Although not a unique experience for some, it is interesting to learn how different units heat and eat their MRE’s. One tank commander shared their unit liked to heat the meals in a few minutes on the outside of the exhaust pipe on their Abrams Tank after a hard day in the field.
Montana ESGR’s boss lift ‘season” runs from May to August with eight Army National Guard flights and two Montana Air National Guard C130 flights. Employers of Guard and Reserve members have first seats on the flights followed by community influencers.
Photo: Summer boss lifts in Montana bring together Montana Army National Guard helicopters and current and future employers of Guard and Reserve members for employer outreach events across the state. Military crews stand by to talk to local employers about their missions. View from the open end of a CH-47 Chinook.