With more than 3,000 National Guard members from northwestern Wisconsin being told to be prepared for possible deployment to Iraq in 2009, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve is holding meetings throughout the 32nd Brigade's home area, to inform soldiers of their rights to regain their civilian jobs after their deployment. Mike Hallquist, one of three full time employees backed by 120 volunteers, says most employers are supportive of the commitments made by Guard members. "Really, those employers that are . . . doing a good job supporting our service members, they're part of the team," Hallquist says. "In fact, you could consider them part of the team for the defense of our nation." Hallquist has sympathy for employers who have to find temporary replacements for skilled workers going on active duty. And, he says most employers do their best to help.
Uncertainty over whether the 32nd Brigade will be deployed has some wondering if these meetings are "too soon" — but Hallquist says the Defense Department wanted to get started now – fearing such meetings could become "distractions" to Guard members if they do get called up next summer.