Group Earns Kudos for Military Employee Support
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2009 When reserve-component troops are called away for military duties, their civilian employers work hard to pick up the slack in their absence. That is especially true for the Mid American Kidney Stone Association, a research group of only 10 staff members in Kansas City, Mo.
However, the small association gladly makes do and continues to support its part-time troops despite the heavy workload and small team, said Army Reserve Col. Harold DeLaughder, a citizen-soldier and Mid American nurse.
“When one of its employees has to perform military duties away from their civilian job, it is a strain on the company,” DeLaughder said. “But they still go above and beyond in their support of their employees.”
Because of that support, Defense Department officials will recognize the association with a 2009 Department of Defense Freedom Award for being one of the nation’s most supportive employers of National Guard and Reserve troops.
Despite its small staff, DeLaughder said, Mid American supervisors always have encouraged him to seek required and advanced military training to enhance his military career. The company has helped to pay tuition for his bachelor’s and master’s degrees that the Army didn’t cover. And when military employees are activated for longer than 12 months, the company pays the difference between their regular and military salaries, he said.
The research company also continues health care and dental benefits for the families and encourages other area medical facilities to offer the same support to their National Guard and Reserve employees, he added.
DeLaughder has been called up for active duty several times, including for two Iraq deployments, a flood and a hurricane. All of his mobilizations took place on short notice and without complaint or resentment from his employer. As one of only two full-time registered nurses at the association, DeLaughder’s absences are not easy to accommodate, but his colleagues understand, he said.
“I know it is difficult for my employer when I’m gone,” he said. “I provide considerable expertise and clinical support to the physicians at our facilities. [But they] understand the needs and demands of the military.”
DeLaughder has devoted more than 20 years to the Army National Guard and Army Reserve while working with the association, and said he’s never feared losing his job because of his military service.
“I have no doubt that I work for the best employer in the country,” DeLaughder said. “This type of reassurance from an employer is welcomed and crucial to my continued service. No one has been more supportive of national security through employer support than the Mid American Kidney Stone Association.”
ESGR 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.