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President Grants Extra Time Off for War on Terror Returnees

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2003 – Federal employees returning from Guard and Reserve duty in the terror war are receiving an extra five days' "uncharged" civilian leave.

President Bush directed the move in a Nov. 14 memorandum issued to the heads of all executive departments and agencies. "As we welcome home returning federal civil servants who were called to active duty in the continuing global war on terrorism," the president wrote, "we recognize the contributions they have made in the defense of freedom.

"Whether they served with the Reserve forces or the Air and Army National Guard," he continued, "each of them has my personal gratitude and the respect and admiration of a grateful nation.

According to the Office of Personnel Management, the president's request covers all employees who were activated for military service in connection with Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

OPM director Kay Coles James issued a memo following the president's, further explaining the added leave policy.

According to OPM, agencies may grant this period of excused absence prior to the employee's resumption of duties, or at a time mutually agreeable to the agency and the employee, if the employee has already returned to duty.

The OPM memo also provides guidance to agencies on the requirement to reinstate reservists who apply for reemployment within specified time limits.

"Many of our employees have endured great disruption to their families and their normal lives as a result of their service in the war against terrorism," Coles wrote. "Therefore, I join the president in urging that agencies do everything possible to ease their return to civilian life."

In granting the extended leave Bush wrote, "We are guarantors of the rights of returning service members under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act," the president wrote, "and I am personally committed to providing each of them with our full support, recognition and assistance.

"The federal government will continue to be the model for employer support to the Guard and Reserve," Bush emphasized. The president's memo also urged senior government officials to recognize the many federal civilian employees have contributed to the terror war while their "fellow activated workers" were away.

More information on agency requirements for returning reservists can be found at the OPM Web site.

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