JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --
For many Guardsmen and Reservists, service to country and state requires balancing the responsibilities of civilian employment with the demands of military duty.
Ask any member of the guard or reserve if they are familiar with the task of submitting orders to be excused from civilian work…chances are, you’ll receive a resounding “YES”.
For civilian employers, going without an employee for any period of time is not necessarily an easy thing; it requires an understanding of the demands expected of their citizen Airmen and soldiers.
That understanding of the military mission came to the forefront on July 19, 2017 as the Hawaii National Guard in close coordination with the Hawaii chapter of ESGR (Employer Support of The Guard and Reserve) put on a Bosslift event.
Begun in the early 1980s, the Bosslift program gives public and private employers an opportunity to see citizen Airmen and soldiers on the job when they are away from their civilian occupations.
“The goal of the Bosslift event is to gain employer support for the Guardsmen and Reservists,” said Sam Wong, a program support specialist contracted to assist ESGR. “We try to provide a better understanding of the role of the traditional service member.”
Through events such as the Bosslift, ESGR aims to promote cooperation and understanding between reserve component service members and their civilian employers.
“We try to showcase the type and level of training they (service members) receive as well as their leadership qualities and abilities, their discipline and their dedication to serving our nation, our state, and our communities.” Wong said.
According to Wong, who retired from the Hawaii Air National Guard as a Chief Master Sgt. after over 40 years of service, a large part of the success of the event was due to the top-down support received from both the Hawaii Air and Army National Guards.
“Leadership from the various components were more than willing to assist with the event,” said Wong. “This willingness goes all the way through, from the lowest to the highest echelon of the command.”
Participants gathered during the early morning hours at the C-17 Operations Building on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Hawaii State Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Arthur “Joe” Logan was among those presenting opening and welcoming remarks.
Upon receiving a safety brief, it was off to an awaiting C-17 Globemaster III aircraft which would fly the participants to Hilo, Hawaii.
Keeping with the theme of the occasion, three of the C-17 crew members had their civilian employers on board as participants of the Bosslift event.
Once on the ground in Hilo, Oahu participants combined with participants from Hawaii Island and were ushered to the Keaukaha Military Reservation.
The day’s events included visits with soldiers from the 227th Brigade Engineering Battalion, 299th Cavalry Regiment, 207th Aviation Regiment and 140th Aviation Regiment, as well as with Airmen from the 291st Combat Communications Squadron.
“One of the most important responsibilities we have here on the Big Island is maintaining our readiness in response to disasters and domestic emergencies,” said Army Maj. Michael Rosner, Executive Officer, 1st Squadron, 299th Cavalry Regiment.
Hawaii Island in recent years has endured a spate of events in which National Guard assistance was needed; highlighting the importance of citizen Airman and soldier.
“Within the past three years, more than 135 Big Island soldiers and Airmen responded to Hurricane Iselle (2014), Puna lava flow (2014-2015), and a Dengue Fever outbreak (2015-2016),” Rosner said. “Supportive employers are critical to each guardsmen’s ability to respond quickly and then successfully transition back into the civilian workforce as valued employees.”
A total of 37 employer representatives attended the 2017 Bosslift event.