Reserve Callups Benefit Total Force, Employers
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2000 Army 1st Lt. Craig Yarbrough, a member of the Texas National Guard, knows it's not easy to just pick up and go whenever duty calls. Deployments mean putting your personal life and civilian career on hold.
In uniform, Yarbrough is assigned to the 49th Armored Division. Out of uniform, he's a senior executive with Brinkman Technologies Inc., in Carrollton, Texas. The e- commerce specialist recently addressed about 250 national corporate executives on issues affecting reserve component members and their employers.
"As an employer, I understand the need to continue forward momentum, but the needs of the soldier-employee must be taken into consideration at all times," he said at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce here. "What we as employers may view as a simple administrative decision within one department may have far-reaching consequences halfway around the world through the impact it has on the soldier."
Several employers demonstrated support for their reserve component employees during the 49th's recent nine-month mission in Bosnia, Yarbrough reported. One company provided six months of supplementary pay to make up the difference between an employee's civilian and military salaries.
Another continued providing health benefits for an employee's family who otherwise would have had to travel for up to five hours to obtain routine health care. In this case, Yarbrough said, the employer "stepped up to the plate and showed tremendous support by continuing to pay all medical and dental premiums at no cost to the soldier so that the family could continue to use the local health care facilities."
A few companies continued all pay and benefits for the length of the deployment in recognition of their employees' sacrifices. "This included salary, bonuses, insurance and stock options," he noted.
In return, National Guard officers from the 49th Armored Division worked to ensure that the mission provided real- world skills or certifications that would be beneficial to both reserve members and employers. Along with military leadership and technical skills training, they focused on providing education, professional certification and information technology experience.
The citizen-soldiers took advantage of the DoD's offer of 100 percent tuition assistance for service members in Bosnia and Kosovo. When they discovered the University of Maryland in Bosnia had no information technology instructors, a unit officer who works for Microsoft taught three classes with 15 students each. Students received college credit for the classes and hands-on instruction supporting their eventual certification as Microsoft certified professionals and Microsoft certified software engineers.
Yarbrough said he and Warrant Officer Rodney Hammack of Electronic Data Systems shared their knowledge of Web development and system integration to create and adapt a Web-based situational awareness product called ScribeVision for the Bosnia mission. ScribeVision, he said, integrates live, tactical and broadcast video with data and can be used by leaders in the field and in garrison to quickly access the latest information about their mission and subordinate units.
Through the special project, Yarbrough and Hammack gained experience in international operations and systems design and deployment on a global scale -- and they also served the Total Force.
"Many reservists and National Guardsmen bring to their military organizations a wealth of knowledge and a depth of skill that can be of tremendous value to the active duty military," Yarbrough said. He called Bosnia a "virtual gold mine" of information technology experience.
"Over the last 18 months, I have had the privilege of working with very professional soldiers from organizations such as EDS, Management Technologies, Microsoft, IBM, Dell, Kintetsu and Cirrus Logic," he noted. "The personal benefit I have gained through my association with these individuals, although enormous, is dwarfed in comparison to the positive impact these soldiers have had on the overall success of our mission."