Monday, July 31, 2017

Serving through the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve

SVP and General Counsel Jan Boivin volunteers as an Ombudsman for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). On behalf of the men and women of the National Guard and Reserve Forces, the ESGR presented Boivin with a Hawaii Committee Award for Outstanding Performance on May 20, 2017. The award acknowledges her outstanding service and continuing support to the national defense.    

In this Q&A with the HPU ‘Ohana This Week newsletter staff, Boivin shares her experiences, serving as an ESGR Ombudsman since 2014.  

What prompted your interest to volunteer for the ESGR?
I greatly admire the service members who put their lives on the line for our country.  By the time I began contemplating what I could personally do, I found myself juggling multiple responsibilities between home and work.  This was an opportunity to give back in a meaningful way.

As an Ombudsman, what are your responsibilities?
An Ombudsman is a neutral third party who does not advocate for the service member or the employer.  We try to help service members resolve workplace issues and improve relationships with their civilian employers, providing information on the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), which is a Federal law that establishes rights and responsibilities for uniformed service members and their civilian employers.

Together, Ombudsmen saved an estimated $4.56M in litigation and other expenses nationwide in Fiscal Year 2016, resolving an average of 77% of our assigned cases.  I am one of three Ombudsmen in the State of Hawaii.

What has been one of the rewarding experiences of your service to ESGR?    
Every matter involving an amicable resolution is rewarding.  More often than not, it is a matter of education and facilitating meaningful communication.  It is heartening to know that I have helped a service member and employer quickly resolve a situation before it escalates, allowing each to move on with important responsibilities.

In a recent matter, I telephoned a service member to convey good news and close the file.  He was speaking in a hushed tone because his young daughter was taking a nap.  He loved his civilian job and his duties as a service member; he did not want to be in the position of having to choose one of these equally important roles. 

The service member was happy that the situation was resolved because it had been placing a strain on his family and work life.  His quiet “thank you” was as loud as could be.  The employer’s “thank you” was equally as powerful.

Photos courtesy of 154 Wing Public Affairs, Hawaii Air National Guard from the ESGR’s July 19 “Boss Lift” event in a C-17 transport aircraft. The event’s purpose is to show employers first-hand what reservists accomplish in their military roles. In the top group photo, Boivin is pictured in the front row, fourth from the left. 

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