By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON (3/10/11) – The Defense Department is reaching out to employers of National Guardsmen and Reservists with a major survey to find out how the past decade of war and the heavy use of Reserve-component forces has affected their civilian workplaces.
The department is distributing the surveys to some 80,000 employers throughout March and April to gain insight into the benefits and challenges of employing members of the Guard and reserves, Dennis M. McCarthy, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, told American Forces Press Service today.
It is the largest survey of its kind since the military entered sustained operations following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States, McCarthy said. While surveys have looked into how Guard and Reserve members are faring, none have focused primarily on employers and how they’ve been affected, he said.
“We want to know a little more about them and what their experiences have been,” McCarthy said. “We want to know what they’ve gained, how they see the value of having members of the National Guard and reserve working for them. We want to know what pressures there have been, and the things they’ve done to deal with it.”
The survey also is about sustaining military relations with employers and assessing the value the members of the reserve components bring to a workplace, McCarthy said.
“We want to get some ideas, if they have them – and I know they will – of what we can do to sustain their support in the future,” he said. “What I hear all the time is that these men and women who serve in the National Guard and Reserve are among [their] best employees.”
McCarthy said he expects employer responses to be high. Phone calls were placed to about 40,000 of the targeted employers to notify them of the survey, and only about 1,500 asked that it not be sent to them, he said.
The survey is being distributed by Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Defense Department agency created in 1972 to develop and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserves service.
ESGR hosts annual Employer Freedom Awards to recognize the best employers for those serving in the Reserve components. This year, some 3,000 servicemembers have nominated their employers, a record number since the awards were created 16 years ago, McCarthy said.
The high number of nominees reflects the support Guard and Reserve members have felt in the past decade, McCarthy said.
“After 10 years of conflict, where we’ve mobilized over 800,000 Reserves, the level of support by employers in this country has been absolutely phenomenal,” he said. “This survey is intended to help us sustain that support … and maintain a partnership well into the future.”
McCarthy added that he hopes the survey results will translate into laws and policies to sustain the strong relationship between the reserve components and employers.
The survey is being distributed to employers of all sizes and industries in every state and territory, ESGR officials said.