When the end of the draft was initially anticipated, Defense planners foresaw a potential problem with the nation's Reserve service members and their civilian employers. Long accustomed to National Guard and Reserve membership as an alternative to compulsory active-duty service, it was believed that employers might question the necessity of service in a purely voluntary military system. The planners concluded that some employers might not be supportive of their workers serving voluntarily in uniform.
In 1972, the Department of Defense chartered the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR):
- Inform employers of the ever-increasing importance of the National Guard and Reserve.
- Explain the necessity for and role of these forces in national defense.
ESGR seeks to gain and reinforce the support of America's employers for a strong National Guard and Reserve system.
Originally consisting of a small, select, volunteer panel of distinguished Americans representing business, government, labor, and military, they directed most of their efforts at their peers. It soon became apparent that this purely top-level effort was insufficient. Throughout the years, studies showed that nearly a third of the men and women surveyed about why they were leaving the National Guard and Reserve still indicated "employment conflict" as the source of their problems.
Identifying the need to expand its outreach, the national ESGR leadership established a nationwide network of local employer support volunteers, organized in ESGR Committees within each state, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. In this way, ESGR could bring the message to all employers, large and small, in cities, towns, and rural areas.
Today, nearly 4,000 volunteer executives, senior government representatives, educators, and military personnel serve on local Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Committees. With help and resources from the National ESGR Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, the 56 ESGR Committees conduct employer support programs, including Bosslifts, Briefings with the Boss, Ombudsmen Services, and recognition of employers whose policies support or encourage participation in the National Guard and Reserve. By explaining the missions of the National Guard and Reserve and by increasing public awareness of the role of the employer, they develop a dialogue among employers, the ESGR Committees, and local National Guard and Reserve unit commanders and members. ESGR Committee members also provide information to the National Chair on specific problems. This information helps point out regional or national trends that affect recruiting, retention and training of the National Guard and Reserve.