Everyone understands and appreciates the sacrifice that American troops are making each day of their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many businesses across the country impacted by the deployment of National Guardsman and other citizen soldiers have gone above and beyond the requirements of the current laws and have found ways to support their employees as they fulfill their military tours of duty. However, that is not to say that the deployments have not had a significant impact on business, particularly small businesses.
Now that President Bush has decided to extend military deployments of citizens soldiers to anywhere from 24 to 48 month, many businesses are trying to figure out how to handle this new development. Some people like Ted Daywalt, president of VetJobs, an online job board for individuals who have served in the military, are concerned if will cause many employers to hesitate in hiring National Guard personnel in the future because of the issues surrounding extended deployments.
Upwards of 1.3 million citizen soldiers who work in a variety of jobs could be affected by the lift in traditional deployment caps. According to Daywalt, 70 – 80% of individuals in the National Guard or reserves work for companies with 300 to 500 employees. Some firms are even smaller and the deployments are having a major impact on those businesses.
He cites a Houston-based machine shop which lost 12 of its 21 workers in a very short time span when they were called to active duty in Afghanistan in 2002. The owner had difficulty meeting his contracts.Daywalt insists this isn’t an isolated incidence, but is occurring all across the U.S.
In addition to the labor constraints, employers are also struggling with the extended financial responsibilities required under law which mandates that they continue providing certain benefits for family members of the individuals who are on duty as well as ensure employment of citizen soldiers when they return from their missions.
There’s no question that if given a choice the majority of these citizen soldiers would rather be home spending time with their families and working their jobs. There is also no question that the majority of employers across the country have remained supportive in their efforts as well. However, given the extended deployments, there are definitely going to be increased issues that will require answers that continue to support military personnel doing their duties and employers just trying to do business as usual.