Boss Lift participants with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program take off from St. Joseph, Mo. via a C-130 airplane, provided by the 139th Airlift Wing, to Colorado Springs, Colo. Throughout the day the group learned about military life and the benefits of hiring service members. Missouri employers saw a glimpse of some of the training their employees undergo while away from their civilian jobs. (Photo by Jennifer Archdekin/Missouri National Guard)
By Jennifer Archdekin
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Missouri employers from the Kansas City and St. Louis areas spent a day experiencing a glimpse of military life thanks to the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
Several businesses that employ veterans, and those serving in the National Guard or Reserves, saw firsthand what their workers may experience while away from their full-time jobs on military leave.
A 5 a.m. report time to Rosecrans Airport in St. Joseph kicked off the day. The 139th Airlift Wing transported the employers to Colorado Springs, Colo. via a C-130 airplane. Once on the ground in the Centennial State, the group was welcomed by representatives from Colorado ESGR and Panther Racing.
The group spent the morning learning about the benefits employers have when they "back their own" and strive to hire veterans from all branches of the military.
Between briefings, participants did have some fun with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity provided by Panther Racing. Employers were whisked around Pikes Peak International Raceway in a two-seat Indy car.
Panther Racing driver, JR Hildebrand, shared with the group what it means to drive the No. 4 National Guard car this year. He pointed out how sponsorship plays a huge part in the racing world, but driving the camo-wrapped Chevrolet means much more.
"Rather than representing a product, we represent a group of people and that's something that's very meaningful to us," said Hildebrand. "We're able to put a face to a name. That keeps us particularly grounded in an environment that's often stressful and hectic."
Hildebrand added that when his team is having a bad day they quickly get a reality check.
"When we see the men and women in uniform with their Families we realize that these guys are really the ones out there making a compromise so we can do what we love," said Hildebrand.
After the track, Boss Lift participants spent the afternoon at Fort Carson, Colo. with the Regional Training Institute. Employers experienced a scenario commonly used on the installation during their exercises. While entering a simulated forward operating base in Afghanistan, the group came under fire and witnessed a quick reaction force engage the insurgents demonstrating what many troops experience while deployed overseas.
The group also handled computer-simulated training equipment used by both active duty and National Guard troops who are preparing for deployment.
"ESGR is about relationships, period," said Brandy Scheer, program support manager for Missouri ESGR. "We all want to find successful jobs and careers for our military."
Scheer said she recognizes the sacrifices employers make by hiring those currently serving in the military and expressed what that means to troops when employers make an effort to support them in their military careers.
"They realize what it means for you to keep them on, and for you to have to hold their job when they're gone for this deployment and that deployment," said Scheer.
Freddie Sudheimer, of Sudheimer Motor Co. in Harrisonville, Mo., who was on his first Boss Lift, knows both sides of the issue. Sudheimer has both employed troops and served in the Missouri Guard for 22 years.
As one of the smallest companies to take part in this Boss Lift, Sudheimer said he is always excited at the opportunity to hire those in the military because of the caliber of worker he will add to his own team.
"My experience has been that they are better at decision making," said Sudheimer. "They are very dependable. It's very easy for them to operate in high-stress situations. I don't know of any situation where they could be working for us that would be half of the stress they have endured during their deployments with the National Guard."
To learn more about the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program, call Scheer at 636-778-3449 or go to www.esgr.mil.
For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please visit www.moguard.com and our social media sites: www.facebook.com/Missouri.National.Guard; www.twitter.com/Missouri_NG; www.youtube.com/MoNationalGuard; www.myspace.com/missouri_ng; www.flickr.com/photos/missouriguard; www.moguard.com/blog; www.pinterest.com/monationalguard/
While at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Colorado Springs, Colo., participants of a recent Boss Lift with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program took the ride of their lives in Panther Racing's two-seater Indy car. Missouri and Colorado employers learned more about military life and the benefits of hiring service members throughout the day. (Photo by Jennifer Archdekin/Missouri National Guard)