Va., Tenn. National Guard leaders attend ESGR Veterans Day and Employers Recognition Luncheon

Maj. Gen. Daniel Long, the Adjutant General of Virginia, speaks to Virginia and Tennessee National Guard and Reserve Component Servicemembers and business leaders during a Veterans Day and Employers Recognition Luncheon Nov. 8 at The Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn. The luncheon was hosted by the ESGR to recognize the efforts of local area businesses to support National Guard and Reserve Component Servicemembers throughout the states of Virginia and Tennessee. (Photo by Sgt. Luther L. Boothe, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., Adjutant General of Virginia, Maj. Gen. Terry M. Haston, Adjutant General of Tennessee, and several distinguished members of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve welcomed several Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee business leaders to a Veterans Day and Employers Recognition Luncheon Nov. 8 at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn.

The ESGR is a Department of Defense agency established in 1972 “to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee’s military commitment.”

Steve Villalpando, the ESGR Virginia Committee chairman, highlighted the important role the ESGR is playing in today’s fight.

“Traditionally our job has been helping folks keep their jobs and get back into the workplace when they return from a deployment, but in addition to that, it is to help all the young folks coming off active duty to get into the workplace,” he said.

Villalpando mentioned ESGR’s ever-evolving mission and continued dedication as an advocate for the Nation’s Guard and Reserve component Service men and women while thanking the business leaders in attendance for their commitment.

“Right now, nationally we have 10 percent unemployment among veterans, which is a little higher than the national average, which is interesting because we think Guard and Reserve folks make better employees because they are drug free, physically fit, they have leadership training and skills and they know how to put their personal needs, wants and desires aside to accomplish the mission,” he said.  “So, I ask you as employers to promote that amongst your peers and others in the business community and on the other side of that I want to thank you for what you have done and the amount of support we have had from you all has been tremendous.”

The luncheon gave the senior leaders from the National Guard a chance to show their appreciation to the ESGR and the local employers for their efforts to support men and women in uniform.

“Thanks for sharing the fight with us,” said Long. “It makes our job really easy. It is an honor to be here today representing the Governor and all the men and women of Virginia, so thank you so much for what you do, God bless all of you.”

“I think this is a great event, we probably need to do more of these,” he said. “I think they are extremely important to make sure that you, first of all, thank the employers and the folks at the ESGR and also to kind of keep them informed of where we are in the guard.”

“I think it is invaluable having this type of organization to support us and to be that liaison between us and the employer in case there are issues that come up,” said Maj. Timothy Pillion, commander of the Gate-City based 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group.  “As we discussed here today, we have under-employed, unemployed Soldiers and this is just another tool to help them gain employment and better their lives.”

“This was a great event with a great environment and it was a perfect place to host this– it truly represents the area of Virginia and Tennessee and where they come together,” said Pillion. “It was great to see both states collaborating and pulling together because as they mentioned there is a state line, but it is definitely not a barrier between where our Soldiers are employed; we have Soldiers that are in the Virginia National Guard that are employed in Tennessee and Soldiers that are in the Tennessee National Guard that are employed in Virginia, so it is great to have the organizations working together.”

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