SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The Puerto Rico National Guard (PRNG) and the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), along with employers from the public and private sectors, participated in the Boss Lift 2014 event held at Camp Santiago Joint Maneuver Training Center (CSJMTC) in June.
The Boss Lift event is an opportunity for employers to understand the experiences citizen-soldiers live while away from work to attend military training or activated for a federal or state mission.
“Employers will have the opportunity to see the two fundamental aspects that affect a soldier’s life: his family and work. Today you will learn all the details of when a soldier is called to fulfill a mission” said the adjutant general of Puerto Rico, Brig. Gen. Juan J. Medina Lamela.
The initiative is celebrated yearly, and although some employers have visited for a second time, they have been able to observe a new set of experiences.
“The activities were different this year. The (Sam’s Club of Puerto Rico) management was delighted,” said Natalia Reyes Rivera, human resources manager for Sam’s Club of Bayamón, Puerto Rico.
Employers had a glimpse throughout the day of both the Puerto Rico Army and Air National Guard.
Airmen of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard received the employers with a continental breakfast at the Muñoz Air Base in Carolina, Puerto Rico. After getting acquainted and signing a ceremonial oath reaffirming their support of service members from the ESGR, the employers were given a safety briefing prior to their departure on a C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft toward CSJMTC.
The flight lasted roughly 30 minutes and landed in Ponce. While some employers were excited, others felt the toll of flying in non-civilian accommodations. Buses then transported the group of 30 employers to Salinas to join the Puerto Rico Army National Guard Soldiers for a full day of activities.
The activities that the employers took part in included rappelling, eating a “field lunch,” asking Soldiers about their military responsibilities and observing many of the tactical maneuvers and equipment demonstrated by the Soldiers.
The ESGR program serves as a link between service members and civilian employers to promote a culture in which all employers support and value military service.
“This week we’re going to hire four more service members,” said Reyes Rivera of Sam’s Club. “We want everyone to know we are committed to the Puerto Rico National Guard and we support them.”
Sam’s Club in Puerto Rico has also established a “Veterans Welcome Home” program that gives interviewing priority to veterans that have been Honorably Discharged within the last 12 months.
ESGR assists in understanding the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), which is the federal law that establishes rights and responsibilities for members of the Guard and Reserve, and their civilian employers.
The Boss Lift event also has an indirect benefit for the employer complaint investigative authority in Puerto Rico, the ombudsman. “These events help lead to fewer cases in my office” said Rubén Sanchez, director of the Ombudsman office in Puerto Rico.
Employers are already expecting to attend next year’s Boss Lift and plan to bring not only the managers, but also part-time employees who are not service members so they can also understand what their co-workers experience in the PRNG.
Among the employers that participated in this event are: Puerto Rico Police Department, Puerto Rico Department of Education, Medical Services Administration, Federal Aviation Authority, Suiza Dairy, Puerto Rico Cardiovascular Center, Sam’s Club of Puerto Rico, Preferred Mortgage, King Fisher Air Services, Dade Paper, Kelly Services, Uno Group, Latin American Financial, Job Corps, King Fisher Air Services, Ritz Carlton Hotel, First Bank, San Juan Hotel, Red Cross of Puerto Rico, American Cancer Society, and Autoridad and Autoridad de Energía Eléctrica, Destilería Serrallés, Electro Servicios Especializados Inc., Banco Popular (in Spanish.)
ESGR is available in all 50 states including the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.