Employers of Maryland National Guard members get citizen-soldier experience during Aberdeen Proving Ground event

Dec. 1—Employers of Maryland Army National Guard members got to experience what it is like to be a citizen-soldier during an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Boss Lift event at Weide Army Heliport at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Edgewood on Nov. 4.

The purpose of the event was to help employers understand what National Guard and Reserve employees do during drill weekends and annual training.

"This is our first [Boss Lift] in many years, so it's an opportunity to let employers know our unique mission with the ESGR and it's also a nice way to recognize employers for the support of the Guard and Reserve that work for them," said Stephen Maguire, state chair for Maryland Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

Employers took part in orientation flights in UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters flown by soldiers with the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade. They rode in up-armored vehicles, familiarized themselves with various weapons systems and learned combat medical care at the Laudercreek Training Site.

During briefing about the support program, the employers learned about reemployment rights of the military reservists after training, deployments or other tours of duty. Thousands of Maryland National Guard members were activated to serve the community during the pandemic, according to an Army news release.

"Employers have been without their employees for the last two and a half years as they have been doing [COVID-19 support] missions for the National Guard," said Brig. Gen. Janeen L. Birckhead, commander of the Maryland Army National Guard. "I think that they wanted to come and see what their soldiers were doing and the contributions they've been making to the United States and Maryland."

The employers were given certificates and thanked by Maryland Army National Guard leadership and ESGR volunteers. The support program wants to develop and strengthen employer support for guard and reserve service through outreach opportunities like Boss Lifts, said Maguire.

"We definitely appreciate the employers that came out and we want to recognize their support," said Maguire. "We feel very strongly that the word will spread throughout the state's thousands of companies."