Fort McCoy News June 13, 2014

Employers gain Army insight with Boss Lift event

STORY & PHOTO BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Wisconsin employers participated in Army familiarization activities June 4 during a Boss Lift event sponsored by the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) of the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

Photo for ESGR article
Employers participate in a Boss Lift event with the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team at Fort McCoy's Tactical Training Base Justice.

Boss Lift is an event coordinated through the Department of Defense Employer Support of Guard and Reserve (ESGR) program. It offers employers an opportunity to visit military installations throughout the nation to observe National Guard and Reserve members involved in training exercises. Employers see, firsthand, the quality of training and leadership activities their uniformed employees receive as part of the Total Force.

The itinerary for this event included a flight on a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, a tour of the 32nd IBCT's Tactical Operations Center and a live-fire range, and a lunch with Soldiers.

Wisconsin National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Shields from Madison, Wis., said events like Boss Lift are important.

"The support employers provide, especially over the last 12 years, is critical to our success," Shields said. "Without it, our Soldiers could not support our state and country like they do."

Several employers noted they were interested to learn more about what Soldiers do when they are away from their civilian jobs as well as meet other employers.

"I think it's a great opportunity to meet with other engaged employers who are supporting these efforts," said Gregory Banaszynski of Milwaukee, president of Activate Healthcare in Wisconsin. "This is a firsthand look at what service men and women are doing each day. As an employer, we are proud to do our part."

Carl Huber, coordinator for the Veteran and Nontraditional Student Center at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, said coming to Fort McCoy for the first time was a pleasant experience.

"I'm not from a military background, so, in my experience, an event like this is useful in helping us understand more about our troops who are coming home from overseas and joining the workforce," Huber said. "It's important for me to learn and understand their experiences."

Even for Army veterans like Wally Obermann, who is currently the police commissioner in the Vilas County Sherriff's Office in Minocqua, Wis., participating in a Boss Lift event is an important reminder of the service and sacrifices of reserve-component forces.

"I really enjoy being able to come and see what is going on here (with the training)," Obermann said. "One of our deputies, a lieutenant in the department, is with the 32nd (IBCT), so it's good to see where he comes to do some of his training."

The deputy is 1st Sgt. Gregory Fulton, a 32nd IBCT combat engineer from Arbor Vitae, Wis. Fulton earned the Silver Star for meritorious service while deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. "He's a wonderful member of the force and a good man," Obermann said.

Brendan Majerus, from RockTenn Company in Beloit, Wis., said his son served as an Army airborne ranger for eight years and deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. He said it's important for employers to help returning veterans, like his son, transition into finding civilian jobs, and support those who are serving in the Guard and Reserve.

"We have to continue to do whatever we can do," Majerus said. "Coming (here) also helps us learn more about how we can support our service members."

Even those who are very familiar with Fort McCoy learned from attending the Boss Lift event.

"You really get a better appreciation for what Soldiers and service members do for us when you attend something like this," said Gary Kirking, president of the Sparta School Board. "You can also learn from the others in attendance on how they support those (service members) on their staff."

James Arzt, from Walker Stainless in New Lisbon, added, "We always want to find ways to better understand how we can provide support. It's our way of showing that we appreciate what they (service members) do."

For more information about the Wisconsin ESGR Committee, contact Mike Hallquist at 715-858-9676, by email at michael.s.hallquist.ctr@mail.mil, or visit the ESGR website at http://www.esgr.mil.