Guard, Reserve Members Score Support from USA Basketball
By Jessica Gonzalez
Special to American Forces Press Service
PHOENIX, Feb. 13, 2009 On the eve of the highly anticipated National Basketball Association’s All-Star weekend, the managing director of the Men’s USA Basketball National Team signed an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve statement of support here yesterday.
Jerry Colangelo, left, managing director of the Men’s USA Basketball National Team, signs an Employer Support of Guard and Reserve statement of support as Army Maj. Gen. Hugo Salazar, Arizona’s adjutant general, looks on at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix, Feb. 12, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ed Balaban
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Jerry Colangelo was joined by political, business and military officials from throughout Arizona.
ESGR is a Defense Department organization that works to promote cooperation and understanding between Guard and Reserve members and their civilian employers, and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee's military commitment.
The occasion represented USA Basketball’s continued recognition of the nearly 700,000 citizen-soldiers and -airmen that have gone to war for the United States since Sept. 11, 2001.
ESGR State Chairman Scott Essex thanked USA Basketball and other supporting businesses on behalf of nearly 13,000 Arizona National Guard and Reserve members. He also recognized the dozens of volunteers that help ESGR achieve its employer-outreach goals.
Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon extended the city’s support for Arizona’s servicemembers and veterans by offering the city and its resources in recognition and respect for their sacrifices, at one point noting that there is nothing more important to the city of Phoenix than assisting servicemembers in need.
Phoenix was the first major city in Arizona to support employees activated into service by providing differential pay to prevent financial hardship while deployed, officials said.
Reflecting on his world travels, Colangelo noted the pride he felt as an American overseas. He said he encountered servicemembers from foreign nations who spoke of the respect they had for America and how much its military aided in the protection of the world.
Colangelo also pointed out how much it meant to him and USA Basketball to be a part of ESGR. Supporting the Guard and Reserve, a seemingly basic responsibility of employers, took on a new meaning with USA Basketball’s statement of support.
Colangelo said he hopes his organization’s participation in this program will help other companies see the need to reform or establish their own polices.
(Jessica Gonzalez serves in the Arizona National Guard.)