VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Navy Expeditionary Combat Command held a signing ceremony at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in recognition of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), Dec. 3.<br /> <br /> Rear Adm. Mike Tillotson, Commander, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, and Rear Adm. Mark Handley, commander, 1st Naval Construction Division, signed the ESGR statement of support, which is designed to increase employer support by encouraging employers to act as advocates for employees who are active in the military.<br /> <br /> “It’s great to be here to sign the letter that shows I support the Guard and Reserve,” said Tillotson. “I think one of the most important things for both Adm. Handley and I is, not only do we need support at the guard and reserve as they work for us, but we are also one of the largest employers of the Navy reserve.” <br /> <br /> Tillotson said NECC forces operate with nearly 15,000 operational reserves, making up almost a quarter of the Navy’s total reserve force.<br /> <br /> “When I go out and talk with my reserve units that are out in the field, who are trained and equipped the same way as our active duty, it’s always important to take a look at how you’re managing your civilian job, how you’re managing your family and how you’re managing your military duties whether it be on weekends or during deployments,” said Tillotson. “They give up a lot, they really sacrifice a lot, and it’s a tribute to their ability to pull it all together and keep all functions. It’s truly an honor to be associated with them.”<br /> <br /> The first statement of support was signed on Dec. 13, 1972, in the office of the Secretary of Defense by the chairman of the board of General Motors. President Nixon was the first president to sign a statement of support.<br /> <br /> “The program is a valuable asset to the reserve community whether you’re guard or reserve,” said Army Maj. Jacqueline Thompson, the information management officer at 1NCD. “It’s easy when you work for an employer that supports what you do, at the civilian job and when you’re in uniform. Good employers do not make you feel guilty when you have to go into uniform. I am very thankful for the support I have had for the past 16 years.”<br /> <br /> Special guests from ESGR participating in the event included: Capt. Marcus Cromartie, national operations and plans; Thomas M. Stephen, Jr., program support manager, Leon B. Hill, reserve component liaison; Anne Bey, administrative support technician; Bob Holmes, Tidewater committee; and Doyle Quisenberry, employer outreach coordinator.<br /> <br /> ESGR, a Department of Defense agency, was established to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee's military commitment. ESGR is supported by a network of more than 4,800 volunteers in 54 committees located across all 50 states.