Washington D.C. — U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today announced that her bipartisan provision to preserve civilian jobs of National Guard members is included in the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act that has now passed both chambers of Congress and is headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
“This is critical for members of the National Guard who are being forced to decide between serving our country or keeping their job,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Our men and women in uniform put their lives on the line every day in the service of this country. These citizen soldiers deserve the same opportunity to return to their jobs when they return home to their families.”
“By extending the same re-employment rights to the men and of the National Guard ordered to duty in the United States as those deployed overseas the Senate is sending a critical message that duty in emergencies at home is no less important to our nation than as service overseas,” said retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr., the president of the National Guard Association of the United States. “Guard men and women greatly need and appreciate these protections.”
The National Guard Employment Protection Act, co-sponsored by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), authorizes the Secretary of Defense to include full-time National Guard duty for possible exemption from the five-year limit on reemployment under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act (USERRA). Exemptions cover service during a time of war or national emergency declared by the President or the Secretary of Defense, and supported by federal funds. Some members of the National Guard are not currently covered under those exemptions, forcing many National Guard members to choose between keeping their civilian jobs and serving our country.