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Bucs sign Employer Support of Guard, Reserve

by Staff Sgt. Randy Redman
Thunderbolt editor
Photo by: Tech. Sgt. Doug Lingefelt
Leaders from local Tampa businesses signed the Statements of Support for the National Guard and Reserve at the Mission Planning Center Tuesday.

The NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Raymond James Financial signed Statements of Support for the National Guard and Reserve at the Mission Planning Center on Tuesday. According to Bob Hollingsworth, Executive Director of ESGR, the Buccaneers and Raymond James Financial joined a cadre of Fortune 500 companies and thousands of America's employers in demonstrating support for our troops.

"A statement of support serves two very vital functions," said Hollingsworth. "First, it demonstrates the strong level of support for our Guard and Reserve, which is important during this critical time. Secondly, it sends a clear message to the service members that while they're serving their country, they do not have to worry about their civilian jobs."

John Lynch, Buccaneers' safety, along with several other local businessmen signed the document amid a roomful of applause.

"I think it's a great cause," said Lynch. "I think it's the responsibility of the corporations here in our community to support and get behind efforts like this to ensure the job security of the people that are volunteering their time to protect our freedom."

He said he was proud to be part of an organization that was stepping forward to show its support.

The Buccaneers were not the only organization on hand to support the military. Representatives from Raymond James Financial, Bob Wilson Dodge, Checkers, Republic Bank and TECO Energy were also on hand.

Robert F. Shuck, vice chairman and director of Raymond James Financial, was adamant in his support of the armed forces. "Sure there are some sacrifices; you lose an employee for a while, but that is nothing compared with what they are doing for us," said Shuck.

The Statement of Support is a pledge from an organization to support their Guard and Reserve members and follow the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. USERRA says employers cannot deny employment to an individual who is a member of the Guard or Reserve.

The USERRA goes on to say employers cannot limit or reduce employee job or career opportunities because an employee is a member of the Guard or Reserve. Businesses must allow Guard and Reserve members time off for military training and, they must make these policies well-known throughout the organization.

"There are 1.2 million men and women in the National Guard and Reserve. This figure represents 46 percent of total military forces," said Hollingsworth. ESGR is a Department of Defense agency whose mission is to gain and maintain employer support from all public and private employers for the men and women of the National Guard and Reserve he said. Caig Duehring, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs said that although businesses suffer the loss of employees temporarily, it is for a worthy cause.

"We have to remember that what we're doing here is supporting those downrange," said Duehring. "We owe these people a tremendous debt of gratitude."

Several film crews were on hand to record the event and it is scheduled to be shown on the jumbotron during the Buccaneers game against the Green Bay Packers Nov. 16.




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