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Bush Extols Importance of Employer Support for Guard, Reserve

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2003 – President Bush recognized the importance of employers in making their employees' military service possible as he signed a proclamation marking National Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve Week.

"In times of need, our nation counts on the Guard and Reserve members to fulfill their commitments of service," Bush said during a White House ceremony. "We value their courage and we honor their sacrifices. They're defending their nation in the war on terror and they are serving in a just cause."

The president said reserve component service members depend on the understanding of their employers for their service. "Across America where units have been activated, employers at offices, factories, schools, hospitals and other workplaces have been understanding and really supportive," he said. "They have priority to the needs of our nation."

Bush said most employers have shown great consideration for their workers. "These companies have the gratitude of our nation, they have the gratitude of the commander in chief," he said.

The tradition of the citizen-soldier began with the Minutemen at Concord, Mass., in 1775. Some of the most famous fighting divisions of World War II started as National Guard outfits.

Bush spoke of his service with the Texas Air National Guard. He said what has stuck with him was his impression of the "high caliber of the people with whom I served."

The reserve components have more than 1.2 million members. They make up almost half of the total military force of the United States. "These men and women face the difficult challenge of balancing military duty with civilian employment," the president said. "They know the call to active duty can come at any time, and they are always ready."

Bush said guardsmen and reservists in places like Afghanistan and Iraq are "meeting the terrorist enemy abroad so our fellow citizens do not have to face the enemy at home."

"They are part of our efforts to employ targeted and decisive force against cold-blooded terrorist killers," the commander in chief noted. "They are helping to train Iraqis and Afghans to defend their own countries. They are helping the Iraqi and Afghan people to build just and free and democratic governments. They are helping to defend the American homeland."

The president said reserve component service members rely on the support and patience of their families. "They also rely on their civilian employers to put the national interest above the corporate or self interests," he said.

"Employers of Guard and reserve members make possible the contributions of our citizens soldiers. By supporting the mobilization of patriots, employers are demonstrating their own patriotism."

The president said America needs the Guard and Reserve more today than it has in decades. "We're at war," he said. "And we're fortunate that so many of our citizens have heeded the call to serve a cause greater than themselves."

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