ESGR visitors gain understanding of military mission at Selfridge

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
About two dozen Michigan employers have a better understanding of the duties and responsibilities of National Guard and military Reserve personnel at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, thanks to a two-day event at the base.

The Employer Support of the Guard & Reserve organization led the program, which brought the employers from around the state to the base near Detroit for two-days of tours, briefings and interactions with military personnel assigned here.

"I never served, but this allows me to get a little better understanding of what the people assigned to different duties in the military are doing. It's fascinating, really," said Beth Gillette, who works for Compass Point Staffing, a personnel placement company in Grand Rapids, Mich.

In the case of Gillette, gaining a better understanding of the duties and mission of Michigan National Guard personnel and of military members in general can pay a direct benefit.

"I'm at a lot of job fairs as part of my job. If I can better translate what is happening on the base to what private companies are doing, I might be able to help more of our veterans find the right job," she said.

Educating employers is the primary mission of the ESGR program, said Gary Aten, program support technician for the program. Aten, who is based at Michigan National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters in Lansing, said education and awareness is the key to helping employers understand not only what the responsibilities are of their current employees who are also in the Guard or Reserve, but it also helps potential employers better understand the skills that a military member or veteran can bring to an organization.

"Most of the people who we are working with on this tour not only have never been to Selfridge before, most of them have little to no experience with the military in general," Aten said. "To be able to see this first hand, to talk to the people in uniform directly, that is very valuable."

One of the benefits of holding the ESGR "Boss-Lift" at Selfridge is the fact that all five military services - Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard - all have operations at the base, said Mike Peplinski, ESGR representative at Selfridge and a former commander of the 127th Wing at the base.

"Most states do not have a facility where we can bring people in and show them all of this in two days, without having lengthy travel time between stops," Peplinski said.

Included on the two-day tour were visits to the air rescue station on the base operated by the Coast Guard, a robotics lab operated by the Army, briefings with local Navy and Marine Corps Reservists, and flights aboard an Army National Guard helicopter and an Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker, where the ESGR guests witnessed an aerial refueling between the KC-135 and a Selfridge-based A-10 Thunderbolt II while flying over northern Michigan.

"This is an opportunity I wouldn't miss," said Heidi Jacobus, owner of Cybernet System, a product development company in Ann Arbor, Mich. "It is really important for us to see the working level of the military. Too often we just hear about budgets and policy. This gives me an opportunity to see what impressive work people do, particularly given the budget constraints they are under."

ESGR, a Department of Defense office, was established in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee's military commitment. ESGR is supported by a network of more than 4,700 volunteers in 54 committees located across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam-CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Volunteers, hailing from small business and industry, government, education and prior military service bring a vast wealth of experience to assist in serving employers, service members and their families. Together with Headquarters ESGR staff and a small cadre of support staff for each State Committee, volunteers work to promote and enhance employer support for military service in the Guard and Reserve. For more information on ESGR in Michigan, visit www.esgr.mil/MI.aspx