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Employers honored for acking Guard, Reserve

April 24, 2002|BY LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

From boosting security at the Hagerstown Regional Airport to flying terrorist detainees to Cuba, the U.S. military has relied heavily on the services of the National Guard and Reserve since Sept. 11.

Their mission also affects local businesses, who lose their employees who are part-time soldiers for weeks or months at a time.

Military officials hosted breakfast at the Four Points Sheraton on Tuesday to thank a handful of major employers for their cooperation.

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National Guard and Reserve soldiers make up nearly half of the military's 2.7 million-member force, said Lt. Col. Benjamin Jablecki, human resources officer for the Maryland Air National Guard based in Baltimore.

"There's been a tremendous burden on the Guard since Sept. 11," he said.

Post-Sept. 11 has been the busiest time in the 167th Air National Guard's 47-year history in Martinsburg, W.Va., said Col. Jesse Thomas, commander of the 167th airlift wing.

At any given time, about two-thirds of the 1,200-member unit is mobilized on missions that range from the humanitarian delivery of food and supplies to the transport of potentially dangerous terrorist operatives, Thomas said.

Hagerstown is home to the 729th Forward Support Battalion, which took over the Homeland Security operation at Hagerstown Airport earlier this month, said Lt. Col. Janet Long.

Since Sept. 11, the military has mobilized 30 to 40 of its 230 members, she said.

Cooperation of employers is essential, said Boyd M. Cook of Boonsboro, Maryland Chairman for the Department of Defense Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Committee.

Cook presented awards to two Washington County businesses that have gone above and beyond what the law requires.

Conservit Inc. and Role Models of America received awards Tuesday for their support of reservist employees.

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