Chief flies high for Guard and Reserve forces

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By Carol A. Clark

Los Alamos Police Chief Wayne Torpy holds the men and women who serve in the National Guard and Reserve forces in high esteem.

“It’s very moving to see how much heart they put into service to this country while holding down full-time jobs,” Torpy said after spending Friday flying in a fuel tanker and observing a variety of military exercises during a “Boss Lift” program.

Boss Lift is part of the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) program, he said, “which sponsors bosses on outings where they can see how involved their ‘weekend warriors’ are and the impressive nature of their rescue operations and other exercises.”

Torpy, whose employee Ofc. Sheldon Simpson is in the Reserves, flew with other bosses Friday between Kirtland AFB and Cannon AFB.

“We had an opportunity to watch four F-16 fighter jets get refueled in flight and see what our employees do in training while away from their jobs,” Torpy said. “Then we received a briefing from National Guard and Army and Marine National Guard commanders at Cannon on the guard’s role in the war on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as briefings on stateside operations.”

Those operations included everything from their participation in the Cerro Grande Fire to tornado disasters in eastern New Mexico to assisting Hurricane Katrina victims in Louisiana, he said.

Torpy joins Los Alamos County Councilor Nona Bowman and other community members serving in the local Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) chapter.

“We’re really an advocacy group for both the employer and the employee,” Torpy said.

The nation’s Reserve components, referring to the total of all National Guard members and Reserve forces from all branches of the military, comprise some 48 percent of America’s total available military manpower, according the ESGR website.

ESGR was established in 1972. It is a Department of Defense organization with a mission to gain and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve service by recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of the law, and resolving conflicts through informal mediation.

The current National Defense Strategy states the National Guard and Reserve will be full partners in the fully integrated Total Force. The Reserve forces will spend more time away from the workplace defending the nation, supporting a demanding operations pace and training to maintain mission readiness.

Torpy explained that in this environment, it’s vitally important for employers to comply with existing employment laws protecting the rights of workers who serve in the Reserve component. Employers play a critical role in the defense of the nation through their support of employees who serve, he said. Access www.esgr.mil to nominate a supportive employer.

ESGR operates through a network of thousands of volunteers throughout the nation and Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The organization also has a national network of more than 900 volunteer ombudsmen who help resolve issues between employers and employees who serve in the Reserve component.

ESGR Ombudsmen can be reached at USERRA@osd.mil or 800-336-4590.