Reserves Must Be Prepared for a Call-Up to Battle Coronavirus
Featured Image: U.S. Army personnel depart from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., and head to New York City, Apr. 8, 2020. This deployment is part of a larger mobilization package of doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists from Air Force Reserve units across the nation in support of the COVID-19 response. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, is providing military support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help communities in need. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jake Carter)
By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice, American Military University
The rapid onset of the coronavirus and its impact in the United States has had implications for military reserve members.
The Executive Order issued by President Trump on March 27, allows the military to recall to active duty up to one million members of the selected reserve and even some former service members for a period up to two years to assist in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
As of April 3, there were almost 20,000 National Guard members nationwide working to combat the coronavirus. These reserves have helped to deliver over 36,000 N-95 masks, 1.2 million gloves, and over 50,000 protective garments to medical personnel. National Guard troops have also assisted in airport screenings and highway checkpoints.
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As a military reservist, I have been called to active duty several times. This included an involuntary recall to active duty with less than 72 hours’ notice on Title 10 orders following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
It Is an Important Time for Reserve Members to Be Prepared for Active Duty
Considering that there are about one million reservists among the five military branches, there are substantially many members who could be called to active duty. As a result, it is an important time for reserve members to be prepared for active duty.
One of the most important strategies in being prepared for active duty on short notice is to ensure that a plan is in place at home. Preparation can reduce stress and provide a smoother transition to active duty.
For reservists with families, this often involves a contingency plan to notify family members of potential childcare assistance needs, ensuring that spouses have access to financial resources while the reservist is deployed, and understanding the civilian employment process to notify employers of the activation.
USERRA Requires Employers to Return Reserves to Their Civilian Jobs after Active Duty
It is also important that reserves understand the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, which is referred to as USERRA. This federal law protects reserves’ civilian employment rights. Most importantly, it requires employers to return servicemembers to their civilian job following their military service.
Readiness is at the forefront of responsibilities for any reservist. When a recall to active duty is possible or imminent, it is especially important for reserves to ensure that medical and administrative readiness documents are up to date. Having these items prepared in advance allows the reservist to easily transition into the active-duty role, which requires complete focus.
Preparing family members for a reserve’s recall can reduce stress for the servicemember, spouse and family members.
In light of the current possibility of being recalled due to the coronavirus, servicemembers can help their family prepare by reviewing the resources that are available through Military One Source’s Family Readiness System.
The Family Readiness System is a network of both military and non-military resources and programs to help families deal with some of the challenges that may occur as a result of a reservist being called to active duty. Some of the most important resources available for military families include financial management programs, emergency family assistance programs, and spouse support programs.
Family care plans and organizations that offer services for children of deployed reserves are available through this system.
Of course, there is always a lot of uncertainty concerning the number of reserve members who will be recalled to active duty to combat the coronavirus.
So now is the time to ensure that all reserve servicemembers are fully prepared to be activated.
Please note: The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.
About the Author
Dr. Jarrod Sadulski is an associate professor at American Military University. He has engaged in speaking engagements in the United States, Europe, and Central America on the topic of human trafficking, counter-terrorism, police responses to domestic terrorism, and police stress management. Most recently, he presented at the International Human Trafficking Conference. His expertise includes infrastructure security, maritime security, homeland security contraband interdiction, and intelligence gathering.
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