News: US Investigations Services officer flies combat missions in Iraq
Story and photo by Lt Col Martin Moerschell, ESGR Forward
IRAQ - U.S. Army National Guardsmen Chief Warrant Officer Peter Smith from Alaska is currently deployed to Forward Operating Base Sykes in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the official name given to military operations assisting in rebuilding Iraq's economic and governmental infrastructure, training and preparing Iraqi military and security forces to assume full authority and responsibility in defending and preserving Iraq's sovereignty and independence as a democracy.
"Family separation is the hardest part of being out here, but in spite of these challenges," Smith said "being part of Operation Iraqi Freedom makes up for many of the hardships I encounter."
Active duty and reserve component members from all branches of the U.S. armed forces are deployed under the U.S. Central Command to support the war against global terrorism outside the borders of the United States. U.S. Central Command is the unified command responsible for U.S. security interests and assets in 27 nations stretching from the Horn of Africa, through the Arabian Gulf region, and into Central Asia.
At Forward Operating Base Sykes, Smith serves as a UH-60 command pilot. In Iraq he flies battlefield circulation missions, air assaults and logistical re-supply missions. The Chief Warrant Officer has served in the military for twelve years and this is his first deployment as a reservist in support of OIF. In his civilian occupation, Smith is an Investigator with the US Investigations Services. He conducts background investigations for personnel seeking federal security clearances. Smith has been employed with US Investigations Services for the past 18 months. "My employer has helped my wife and sent care packages to not only me but to the members I am deployed with as well. I can't wait to return to my civilian occupation," Smith said.
Today, more than 1.2 million members of the National Guard and Reserve continue to perform an increasing number of unique missions that require extraordinary actions on the part of everyday citizens. Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) is the primary resource for information about the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, commonly known as USERRA. This federal law allows Smith and other mobilized reserve component members to retain their rights, when the deployment concludes.
Established in 1972, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a DoD agency, provides free USERRA education, consultation, and if necessary, mediation for employers of Guard and Reserve employees. The mission of ESGR is to gain and maintain active support from all public and private employers for the men and women of the National Guard and Reserve. More information about ESGR Employer Outreach Programs and volunteer opportunities is available at www.esgr.mil, or by calling the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve at (800) 336-4590.
"I really enjoy what I do out here in support to my country. However, I could not be nearly as affective if it wasn't for the strong support I receive from my wife; who deals with an extra set of responsibilities while I am away and of course the support from my employer; who gives me this time away from work without me worrying about my job while I am away. Because of all this I am able to focus on my mission and look forward to returning home," said Smith
Smith, who calls Palmer, Alaska his home, is the son of William and Twila Smith. He is married to Lori for seven years and they have one daughter, Katherine who is three years old.