Service members need their day jobs - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Service members need their day jobs

June 28, 2007

Albany - They sign up ready and willing to serve our country at a moment's notice. Yet, some national guard and reserve service members are discriminated against or even fired when they report back to their day jobs.

For 13 years, Frank Mitchell has served in the Army Reserves. In 2003, he was deployed to Iraq for 18 months. He said, "When you come back here, it takes time to readjust back to the civilian world."

And because of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, he got that time. 90 days to readjust to life back at home. Then, he went right back to work at Autry State Prison as a Correctional Officer. "It's a state agency, so I knew that as soon as I got back I would go back to work," said Mitchell.

Unfortunately, not all employers and employees know the law, and often times, when a guard member or reservist returns home, they're not welcomed with open arms. "One of the things we experience each time we have a case and there's been a violation, most of the time it's because the employer is unaware of what the federal law says," said Penelope Harbour.

In a nutshell, it says those service members are entitled to their job, along with all the benefits they would have had while away, even if you replaced them while they were deployed.

"It's an excellent law," said Mitchell, "Without that type of protection, you would have employers who would violate their employees rights and vice versa."

And by knowing the law, employers can honor those men and women, who help keep our country safe. Frank Mitchell just completed his second mobilization, where he was training in Ft. Gordon, in May.

If you are an employer or service member who would like more information on the rights for employment and reemployment, click here.

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