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Changes to the Army National Guard are resulting in more days that soldiers are away from home for training and deployment.
A Department of Defense agency known as Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve is reaching out to local employers to help them understand the changes, which mean that in some years soldiers will be required to train for at least 63 days instead of 39.
“Right here in Hermiston, it’s very important because of the increased tempo of training that we have a good relationship with employers, because they take part of that heat when soldiers are gone,” said Jack Johnson, area chairman for ESGR.
Johnson said the all-volunteer ESGR helps with outreach to employers and has ombudsman power to work through “misunderstandings of the law” surrounding duties to employees who are in the National Guard or the reserves for other military branches.
Since the National Guard was created in 1903, Johnson said, to replace the state-by-state militia system, federal law said soldiers in the Guard must train at least 39 days a year and could only be deployed by the federal government for war (the governor, on the other hand, can utilize Guard units to respond to natural disasters).
That has usually been accomplished with drills one weekend a month and for two weeks during the summer. But in 2016 the law was amended so that the president could mobilize Guard units to non-combat situations. In response, Johnson said, a new “National Guard 4.0” was implemented, creating a four-year training