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Guard guaranteed jobs on return

By By Suzanne Digmon
In less than a month, Atmore's National Guard will be deployed, along with many other guard or reserve service personnel all over the country. Normally, the National Guard and Reserves is a part-time branch of the military, and members are employed at civilian jobs, except for one weekend out of the month when they go to drill.
What happens to their civilian jobs when these men and women are called to serve their country? By law, service personnel are entitled to a leave-of-absence for up to five years. This does not take away from their sick leave or personal leave they may have accrued at their jobs.
Charlotte Boyle, local representative for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, said, "When you leave your position, your employer has to give you your position or one comparable to it upon your return."
"When the guard or reserve has a problem, we try to solve it," Boyle said. ESGR also helps employers if they have any questions or need assistance.
"We ask the servicemen to contact their employer every few months, just to keep in touch and let them know they are still interested in their job," Boyle said.
Servicemen often write letters to ESGR informing the agency on how their civilian employer has supported him/her in the service. Once a year, ESGR chooses the employer who is most supportive, judging by the letters received, and recognizes that company or individual.
The winner gets to go to Washington, D.C. and have breakfast with Donald Rumsfeld.
Several businesses in Atmore will be losing employees or have already lost some of their staff. The Atmore Police Department is one example. The APD has already lost one officer, and will be losing one more soon. "There is no way you can work around it. We're filling in the gaps as we can," Police Chief Jason Dean said. "If I hired someone else to fill his position, it would be over four months before he'd be able to work."
"We had one leave here last week," said Kristen Bass of Winn Dixie. "He is now on a military leave-of-absence. I don't know yet what we will do to fill in his position."
Pepsi Cola and the Department of Corrections will also be losing valuable employees.
Servicemen should be able to take a leave-of-absence through their employer, but if they experience any trouble, the ESGR will help.