Donnie Temperley did something Friday that he does quite often — sign his name.
However, this time it wasn’t something the Hormel plant manager did for business. It was something he did for his country.
He signed a statement of his support and the support of Hormel for the National Guard and Reserve.
“Without their efforts, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the freedoms we have today,” Temperley said among several employees who are also volunteer soldiers. “We really appreciate what you do for your country. Thank you very much.”
He said the Fremont Hormel plant has at least a dozen employees who are currently active in either the Reserve or National Guard. There are also several dozen employees with past military experience.
“One thing we’re proud of is we’ve been able to hire quite a few supervisors who retired from the service,” Temperley said. “You can’t take for granted the freedoms we have.”
The form he signed is part of a program through Employer Support of Guard and Reserve, an organization made up of mainly retired military personnel who work with businesses and help with military service issues.
Major Gen. Roger Lempke, retired adjutant general of the Nebraska National Guard and state chairman for the ESGR, spoke at a noon Rotary lunch before Temperley signed his support.
He had taken the lead of the Nebraska National Guard just before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and deployed many guard members into the war.
“This has not just been an active duty war,” Lempke said. “It’s a war that’s been fought by the entire nation.”
While many people think of overseas wars when they think of National Guard service, the Guard provided a lot of relief at home in the past year. In 2008 Guard members worked 21 floods, 20 tornadoes, wildfires, winter storms, two major hurricanes, search and rescue and border patrol work.
“That would not be possible without the citizen soldiers who are ready to serve,” Lempke said. “Or without patriotic and supportive employers who enable them to serve.”
Members of the National Guard and Reserves make up almost half of the United States military forces.
“They are an important part in our country’s defense,” Lempke said. “We’re here to help in that relationship between the employer and employees who are service members. The bigger companies usually have human resources departments who are trained in the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act. We’re here to help with the education process with smaller organizations.”
He said studies have found that 26 percent of reservists who leave the service do so because of employment conflicts. He also said it costs around $28,000 to train a soldier.
“We as taxpayers lose when we lose members of our reserve component,” Lempke said. “We’re constantly working to smooth relationships so they are willing to continue to serve.”
With employers’ biggest concerns being lack of predictability of mobilization and duration of mobilization, the ESGR worked to keep the duration to one year. Reserve members also are now on a deployment rotation so they often know a year ahead of time when they will be deployed.
“The statement of support is simply a document we use to help remind America of the sacrifices our Guard and Reserve are making,” Lempke said. “Nebraska Reservists will continue to be called to duty. The effort in Iraq and especially Afghanistan will continue. We will continue to be at a high level of readiness.”