Fort McCoy News June 24, 2016

Boss Lift helps civilian employers learn about military

112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

FORT McCOY, Wis. — Fifty-two civilian employers and supervisors of Wisconsin Army National Guard service members participated in an annual Boss Lift event, coordinated by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), June 14.

Five UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters belonging to 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment, 64th Troop Command flew the employers to Fort McCoy from Appleton, Eau Claire, Madison, Milwaukee, and Wausau to give the bosses a firsthand look at the military aspect of their employees' lives.

Retired Wisconsin Army National Guard Col. Mike Williams, ESGR state chairman, spoke about the importance of the event.

Wisconsin employers take photos to preserve memories of their June 14 participation in the Boss Lift event.
Wisconsin employers take photos to preserve memories of their June 14
participation in the Boss Lift event.
Photo by Scott T. Sturkol

"It gives us the opportunity to expose employers to the military," Williams said. "On this particular Boss Lift, we tried to match up the employer with their Guard member.

"The employers make sacrifices when they hire members of the military," he continued. "They know they have to send them away for training, school, and mobilizations — sometimes that can be a hardship on the employer."

After arriving via helicopter at Fort McCoy, the bosses traveled to a pavilion to meet up with their employees. At the pavilion, the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) displayed several tactical vehicles and the employers met with senior Wisconsin National Guard leadership, including Col. Mike Rand, commander of the 32nd IBCT.

Command Sgt. Maj. Rafael Conde, Wisconsin Army National Guard command sergeant major, spoke about the dual role of a typical Soldier in the National Guard.

"An M-Day Soldier (a Soldier who attends monthly drill) is a Soldier who has a dual role — they have their civilian job, and then they come back and do the Army thing on the weekend," he said. "When they come back they're better trained, they're better leaders, and certainly they have the commitment."

Soldiers sat down and joined their employers in the shade of the pavilion and showed their bosses how to eat Meals, Ready-to-Eat.

For many of the employers, it was their first exposure to the prepackaged meal that is such a staple to every Soldier experience.

Sgt. Nash Schoff, a forward observer with Detachment 1, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 120th Field Artillery Regiment, 32nd IBCT, discussed the relationship he has with his manager.

Bosses and their Soldier employees pose for a group photo during the Employer
Support of the Guard and Reserve Boss Lift event at Fort McCoy June 14.
Photo by
Spc. Jared Saathoff (Bonus photo, not in print edition)

"Keith has been there for me since I was in high school — I started at Polito's Pizza my senior year of high school," Schoff said. "Keith has always supported my dream; he knows I want to be full time with the National Guard so he's been flexible with my schedule by giving me time off when I need it and taken into consideration the extra duties I do within the military."

Schoff talked about why he wanted to bring his boss out for the ESGR event.

"Bringing him out here for the day gives him a little insight on what we actually do," Schoff said. "This way Keith understands sometimes when I'm a little beat coming off drill weekends or if I need to take on additional military duties."

Schoff works for Keith Clawson, general manager and owner of Wisconsin Rapids' Polito's Pizza. Clawson spoke about the advantage of having a Soldier work for him as well as the role Clawson himself plays in supporting the readiness of the National Guard.

"We have a younger group of employees, and it really helps with the maturity aspect, especially as for following his leadership," Clawson said about Schoff. "He brings back leadership, big time.

"It feels good doing what I can do to help the Soldiers out," Clawson continued, "especially knowing that they're out there keeping us safe."

Brig. Gen. Joni Mathews, the Wisconsin Army National Guard's assistant adjutant general for readiness and training, discussed the readiness of the military and the importance that civilian employers play in that role.

"We are all about readiness," Mathews said. "We want to make sure our Soldiers are ready when called by either our governor, a governor from another state, or called out on a federal mission. We need to make sure we're ready: personal readiness and training readiness. It's important to have that support from the employers so the Soldiers can prepare themselves for when they're called."

Mathews continued about the relationship necessary between Guard members and their civilian employers.

"What we need is a good relationship between the citizen-Soldier and their civilian employer for when the Soldier is called on a short-notice mission," Mathews said. "It's critical that the Soldier's supervisor understands the importance of the Soldier's readiness and recognizes that when the Soldier needs to go that it needs to be with no hard feelings — it makes it a lot easier for the employee to go when they have the understanding that they have that support."

Williams summed up the event.

"The most important thing is to make employers aware of the importance of our National Guard and the importance of giving jobs to our National Guard members," he said. "The employers really are supporting our national defense by providing jobs for our National Guard members."