S John Lynch (center), flanked by Defense Department representative Craig W. Duerhing (left) and retired Two-Star General Bob Hollingsworth, displays the Bucs' Statement of Support
Since joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1992, Pro Bowl safety John Lynch has been an avid supporter of the United States Armed Forces at nearby MacDill Air Force Base. He has attended various functions on the base, visited the troops on several other occasions, invited military leaders to speak at his Salute the Stars banquet and become friends with retired General Tommy Franks.
Lynch, then, was the natural choice to visit the MacDill Air Force Base Mission Planning Center on Tuesday to sign a Statement of Support for the U.S. National Guard and Reserve on behalf of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (See below for the full text from that statement.)
A Statement of Support is a formal pledge from an organization to publicly support Guard and Reserve members and follow the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). USERRA requires that employers not deny employment to an individual who is a member of the Guard or Reserve; not limit or reduce employee job or career opportunities because they are a member of the Guard or Reserve; allow Guard and Reserve members time off for military training; and, make these policies well-known throughout the organization.
"I'm here representing the Buccaneers organization in their support for the National Guard and Reserve," said Lynch. "I think it's a great cause. I think it's the responsibility of the corporations here in our community to support and get behind efforts like this to ensure the job security of the people that are volunteering their time to protect our freedom."
The Buccaneers were not the only organization on hand to support the military on Tuesday, as representatives from Bob Wilson Dodge, Checkers, Raymond James, Republic Bank and TECO Energy were also on hand.
Lieutenant Colonel Mike Lovitt emceed the event and welcomed all of the organizations and their representatives. Lt. Col. Lovitt also introduced Craig W. Duehring, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, retired Two-Star General Bob Hollingsworth, the Executive Director of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), and David Bludworth, the Florida State Chair of the ESGR.
Duehring and Hollingsworth each took their turn at the podium to address the crowd and the representatives about the importance of their actions on this day, before asking everyone to rise and sign their pledges.
"A Statement of Support serves two very vital functions," said Hollingsworth. "First, it demonstrates the strong level of support for our Guard and Reserve, which is important during this critical time. Second, it sends a clear message to the service members that while they're serving their country, they do not have to worry about their civilian jobs."
Each of the representatives then signed their Statement of Support, delighting the assembled military men and women on hand. Two young reservists then shared their own stories in relation to the Statement of Support, describing the real-life impact of the day's events.
"I'm inspired by the people that do (volunteer their time)," said Lynch. "I'm grateful for the effort that they put forth to protect my family and that of the people in our country and around the world."
The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve is a Department of Defense Agency. It is their mission to gain and maintain active support of all public and private employers for the men and women of the National Guard and Reserve as defined by demonstrated employer commitment to military service.
Guard and Reserve members, as well as their employers, can find out more about ESGR by visiting www.esgr.com or calling toll-free (800) 336-4590.
STATEMENT OF SUPPORT FOR THE GUARD AND RESERVE
We recognize the National Guard and Reserve as essential to the strength of our nation and the well-being of our communities.
In the highest American tradition, the patriotic men and women of the National Guard and Reserve serve voluntarily in an honorable and vital profession. They train to respond to their communities, their states and their country in times of need. They deserve the support of every segment of our society.
If these volunteer forces are to continue to serve our nation, increased public understanding is required of the essential role of the Guard and Reserve in preserving our national security. Their members must have the cooperation of all American employers in encouraging employee participation in Guard and Reserve training programs.
Therefore, we join other employers in pledging that:
- Employment will not be denied because of service in the Guard or Reserve; 2. Employee job and career opportunities will not be limited or reduced because of service in the Guard or Reserve; 3. Employees job and career opportunities will not be limited or reduced because of service in the Guard or Reserve, consistent with existing laws, without sacrifice of vacation; and 4. This agreement and its resultant policies will be made known throughout our organization.