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Washington, DC - U. S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Kay Coles James signed a "Statement of Support," on behalf of the American Civil Service (attached), and pledges to continue to work with all Federal agencies to ensure the letter and spirit of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) meets with full compliance.
President George W. Bush has designated the week of September 26 through October 2, 2004, as National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week. Currently, more than 15,000 Federal employees are serving on active duty making the Federal government by far the largest single employer of members of the Armed Forces Reserves and National Guard.
"In the spirit of the President's proclamation, I am honored to have the opportunity, on behalf of the United States Civil Service, to sign the USERRA agreement, committing support to the brave men and women who serve in our National Guard and Reserve," stated James. "We see the sacrifices you and your families make, and we at OPM are going to protect the rights and privileges you have earned."
USERRA states employment should not be denied because of service in the Guard or Reserve; employee job and career opportunities should not be limited or reduced because of service in the Guard or Reserve; employees should be granted leaves of absence for military service in the Guard or Reserve, consistent with existing laws, without sacrifice of vacation; and this agreement and its resultant polices should be made known throughout an organization.
Director James signed the statement with Major General (Ret.) Bob Hollingsworth, Executive Director National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). Major General Hollingsworth was appointed by President George W. Bush on November 6, 2001.
"Mrs. James is leading the way...I applaud you for your leadership" stated Major General Hollingsworth. "This is the most significant statement of support - the one that we sign here today. What you're doing here today sets the standard, and it is going to make a difference to folks."
James added, "This Administration's support for our men and women in uniform has been rock-solid, and today's event builds upon a record of consistent support."
In 2003 Director James also issued a memorandum to the heads of Federal agencies and departments encouraging them to pay the full premium - both the employee and government shares - of the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program for reservists and guardsmen who are activated into duty. James thanked the agency heads who are providing this "well-deserved" benefit to their employees, paying their share of the FEHB premiums incurred when they are called to active military for more than 20 days. Additionally, Director James initiated the Veterans' Invitational Program, recruitment stops at many Veterans Affairs Medical Centers across the country and numerous other outreach initiatives to provide veterans with accurate and useful information about employment opportunities with the Federal government.
Last November, President Bush directed that all agencies grant five work days of excused absence, without charge to leave, for employees returning to Federal civilian employment. This request covers all employees who were activated for military service in connection with Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
OPM is actively involved in supporting the ESGR mission and has been a member of the District of Columbia Employer Support for Guard and Reserve Committee since 2002.
ESGR is an agency within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. It was established in 1972, to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve component members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee's military commitment. Today, ESGR operates through a network of more than 4,500 volunteers in 54 different committees located in each state, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
The Nation's Ready Reserve components comprise approximately 50 percent of our total available military manpower, excluding retirees. The National Defense Strategy indicates that the National Guard and Reserve are full partners in the integrated Total Force. Reserve force members are being called upon to spend considerable time away from their workplaces defending the Nation, supporting a demanding operations tempo and training to maintain their mission readiness.
OPM oversees the federal work force and provides the American public with up-to-date employment information. OPM also supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools and programs to improve workforce performance.
STATEMENT OF SUPPORT
FOR THE GUARD AND RESERVE
We recognize the National Guard and Reserve as essential to the strength of our nation and the well-being of our communities.
In the highest American tradition, the patriotic men and women of the Guard and Reserve serve voluntarily in an honorable and vital profession. They train to respond to their community and their country in time of need. They deserve the support of every segment of our society.
If these volunteer forces are to continue to serve our nation, increased public understanding is required of the essential role of the Guard and Reserve in preserving our national security. Their members must have the cooperation of all American employers in encouraging employee participation in Guard and Reserve.
Therefore, we join other employers in pledging that:
1. Employment will not be denied because of service in the Guard or Reserve.
2. Employee job and career opportunities will not be limited or reduced because of service in the Guard or Reserve;
3. Employees will be granted leaves of absence for military service in the Guard or Reserve, consistent with existing laws, without sacrifice of vacation; and
4. This agreement and its resultant policies will be made known throughout our organization.
_Kay Coles James/signature
(On Behalf of the American Civil Service)
Other signatures are Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and
Chairman of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve David Janes.
MEMORANDUM FOR HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
FROM: Kay Coles James
SUBJECT: National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week
We are all deeply indebted to the courageous men and women serving both here and abroad
in America's National Guard and Reserve. In recognition of their patriotic service,
President George W. Bush has designated the week of September26 through
October 2,2004, as National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week. In
addition to honoring our Guardsmen and Reservists, this week will also focus attention on
the important role played by Federal agencies as their employers. As the President says in
his proclamation, "Our Nation depends on the dedication of these citizen-soldiers, and our
Guardsmen and Reservists rely on the support of their civilian employers to allow them to
fulfill their service obligations."
Currently, more than 15,000 Federal employees are serving on active duty making the
Federal Government by far the largest single employer of members of the Armed Forces
Reserves and National Guard. As Federal employers, we are proud of the dedication and
commitment of our fellow workers in a time of international crisis. Therefore, I
join the President in urging that agencies do everything possible to support their service.
Providing this support is not only the right thing to do, but it is also our legal obligation
under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) maintains information on all ofthe
employment rights and benefits of Federal civilian employees who perform active military
service on our website at http://www.opm.govlflsa/oca/compmemo/200l/2001-09A.asp. I
encourage each of you to review these rights and benefits and update your agency's
employment policies accordingly. Should you have questions in this regard, please contact
your agency's OPM Human Capital Officer.
National Employer Support ofthe Guard and Reserve Week is an ideal time for each of us to
recommit our agencies to providing the assistance our Guardsmen and Reservists need and
deserve when they transition back to civilian life.
cc: Chief Human Capital Officers
Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.