Boss-Lift Project

July 29, 2008

Today, more and more National Guard and Reserve members are being called up for duty, and being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Due to their unique circumstance as “citizen soldiers” these men and women, not only leave behind their friends and families, but they leave behind their civilian jobs as well, for whatever length of time that they’re deployed. The deployments can create problems for their employers, as they have to hire temporary help to replace them while they’re deployed. Some companies have been less than accommodating with their Guard and Reserve employees, which can create problems as well. While these men and women’s jobs are protected under Federal law, they sometimes experience difficulties with their employers when they return.

To help alleviate those problems and work with employers of National Guard and Reserve Soldiers, the Department of Defense operates an agency called Employer Support of The Guard and Reserve. The ESGR operates a program called the Boss-Lift Project. It’s a program that many have probably not even heard of. The program allows the employers the opportunity to see for themselves first hand, what their employee/soldier experiences on a deployment. The hopes is that the program, created over three decades ago, will provide the employer with a better understanding and appreciation of what their employee goes through.

The program has expanded over the years, to 56 different installations across the country. The employers are introduced to what the day to day life of their employee/soldier is like when they’re deployed. They spend time in a classroom, learning basic Arabic, participate in various drills and trainings and even participate in in-flight refueling. It’s also a chance for the military to show their appreciation to the employers, who, by employing a Reserve or National Guard Member, also make a sacrifice. Different from what their employee does, for sure, but all the same, having that Soldier missing from work can cause a drain on the company, as they are forced to rely often on temporary replacements until their employee returns. In order for an employer to participate in the program, they must be referred by a reserve or national guard member. They are then contacted by the members unit and a time is scheduled for them to attend an orientation.1

The experience is often an eye opener for the employers, who often have no clue initially what their employee is experiencing. One employer, John Burns operates a monument company in New Jersey. One of his employees, who designs art for the memorials was activated recently for a year tour in Iraq. Mr. Burn’s company will feel the impact of the employee being gone for a year. He recently participated in the Boss Lift Project at Fort Bliss, Texas.

“It’s hard as a small business to, you know, have to toss things up in the air constantly around their schedules.”


After his experience with the Boss Lift program, Mr. Burns had a much greater understanding and appreciation of what his employee would be facing. His company will cope, as they continue their business over the next year while their employee is in Iraq. He walked away from the experience, grateful that men like his employee are willing to put their lives on the line for our country.

“Look at where he’s going. I mean, we’re going home tomorrow – he’s not. He’s got to be away for another year. I mean, that’s a pretty big sacrifice. I mean, our sacrifice is miniscule compared to what his is.”


It’s great that the DoD is reaching out to employers through ESGR to help the employers understand the situation. Their website is full of valuable information for employers of National Guard and Reserve Soldiers who have been called to active duty. They also have means for the Soldiers to formally recognize their employers and the support they’ve provided during their deployment. I hope to see more employers take advantage of the Boss-Lift Project and learn more about what their employee/Soldier is dealing with.

Employer Support of The Guard and Reserve

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2 Responses to “Boss-Lift Project”

  1. Harold Lancaster on December 9th, 2008 2:29 pm

    I would like to attend the ESGR traing program. Thanks Sheriff Harolod Lancaster

  2. Terri on December 10th, 2008 6:19 pm

    Sheriff Lancaster, follow the link at the bottom of the above post to find out what you’ll need to do to attend the ESGR training program. Thank you for your willingness to participate in such a program. Your employees are lucky to have a boss willing to do so.

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