Chamber official signs statement of support for troops
A.J. Nicolosi, left, and Ron Pitts, right, of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve organization watch Hagerstown Chamber of Commerce President Brien Poffenberger Monday as he signs a statement of support for ESGR. (By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer / August 20, 2012)
“This is an important component of supporting our military,” Poffenberger said during the signing at the chamber offices at 28 W. Washington St. in Hagerstown. “It’s a statement of how we can support the people defending our community.”
The statement is an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Statement of Support, which says that employers and organizations “fully recognize the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act (USERRA),” show appreciation and encourage opportunities to hire Guard members, Reserves and veterans, and to recognize and support service members, according to the ESGR website, www.esgr.org.
USERRA is a federal law passed in 1994 under which citizens who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, Reserves, National Guard or in other “Uniformed Services” do not face career disadvantages because of their service, are re-employed in their civilian jobs after returning from duty and are not discriminated against in employment because of their service.
“Supporting our troops really goes beyond the law,” Poffenberger said. “It really is a statement about support. It’s a statement about patriotism, and it’s a statement about who we are as a community.”
ESGR, according to its website, is a Department of Defense organization established in 1972 to “promote cooperation and understanding” between Reserve component members and companies that employ them, and to help out in conflicts that come from the employee’s military commitment. It is spread out across the country.
Two members of the ESGR were in attendance for the signing, including ESGR Maryland Employer Outreach Representative A.J. Nicolosi and ESGR Western Maryland Area Chair Ron Pitts.
“It’s extremely important that businesses know that they need to support their men and women in uniform,” Pitts said. “By signing this statement of support, the Washington County chamber is showing that.”
Nicolosi said the group focuses on local businesses across the country.
“It’s always important that various county employees, and obviously the chamber of commerce, support our military citizens,” he said. “We try to encourage all employers in the county, state and across America to be cognizant of their responsibilities as employers for helping them maintain their jobs once they’re deployed.”