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  1. #1
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    Default Joining the military

    I'm looking for the opinions of FF's, shift captain's and chief officers on FF's joining the national guard after being hired.

    Let's say a FF spends 3-5 years in your dept and then joins the national guard for a list of reasons. How would you feel about it?


  2. #2
    Forum Member gunnyv's Avatar
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    We had a guy just off probation leave for 18 months for helicopter pilot school. His first day back he demanded to ride the ladder because he had seniority over another guy hired the same day he was, but lower on the list.

    Don't do that.

    Like everything else, people won't care until it affects them-chief has to pay out OT while you're at Annual Training, another FF gets detailed to work at your station and doesn't want to, etc. That said, they can't stop you from enlisting, and they have to provide the protections dictated by the USERRA law.

    I have deployed twice, 3 others have deployed in my dept, other than that one guy I mentioned it has never been an issue. Our guys supported my family while I was gone and stayed in touch.

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    Hey thanks for the info. I would like to think that I would not be that guy. I am currently a full time firefighter and I also have always wanted to join the service. I am currently thinking of joining the national guard as a combat medic. I was just worried that if I signed the dotted line that I would cause major waves at my dept and I didnt want to do that. Thanks again for the input I will keep it in mind.

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    Forum Member gunnyv's Avatar
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    Another issue: make sure that any extras the employer chooses to provide above the legalrequirements to employees who are deployed-pay differential, insurance coverage, retirement credit-apply equally to someone who joins after being hired. My dept makes that distinction; you're covered if you are a military member at time of hire, but get only what the law requires if you join post hiring.

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    Is it a law that a dept has to pay you the difference in your pay when you are on a weekend drill, or is that just really proactive depts? How would your time in the service affect your retirement?

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    Forum Member gunnyv's Avatar
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    There is no federal law requiring pay differential. All an employer is obligated to do by law is give you the time off w/o pay to attend drill, hold your job for you if mobilized, and continue your senoirity. There may be state laws granting more benefits, and retirement affects will depend on your particular system. Your first step should be to talk to any other guys on your dept who have been in the reserve/NG to find out what they got.

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    I know a guy who does the Marine Corp Reserve gig in So. Cal. Several times over his career, he was deployed and took leave for military assignments. Thats great that he was able to serve his country.

    BUT...all of that time devoted to the military delayed and jammed up him trying to promote at his fire job. It wore thin on management, rough the OT budget and did not help his promotability.

    Just some thing to think about.

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    Forum Member gunnyv's Avatar
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    Like Bou says, it can jam you up on promotions if you're dept has a system that relies on making the chief happy or studying for 3 years prior to taking the exam. The law REQUIRES that any person who misses a promotion exam while on military duty has the right to take the test a reasonable time after they return, and be granted the seniority they would have had if they never deployed. However, there are plenty of ways for the chief or HR to screw you if they want to without attributing it to military service (low interview score on test, etc).

    My dept promotes based only on seniority, so it didn't affect me at all. I've been very fortunate in both careers. Even my deployment to Iraq was more of a career enhancement because of the duties I had there. But that was a long time coming and I'm senior in rank at both jobs, not a probie.

    BTW, Bou, if he was a crash crew guy at Miramar I probably know him, at least his name.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnyv View Post
    The law REQUIRES that any person who misses a promotion exam while on military duty has the right to take the test a reasonable time after they return, and be granted the seniority they would have had if they never deployed.

    Gunny, we just had this very scenario happen during the last captains exam.

    One of our lieutenants, a CWO helicopter pilot in the army reserve was deployed to Iraq.
    Five months into his deployment was when the exam process occurred. He was given all material pertinent to the exam (love that internet), and upon his return stateside, was given the exam process.
    He scored well enough to place inside the top ten, out of about sixty. The list had already been hired up to about number thirteen or fourteen; I don't recall the exact number, not that it matters.

    He was promoted as soon as his exam result was able to be certified by the fire & police commission, and credited with all seniority due his ranking on the list.

    It was great to see the process work so smoothly. After all, it is only the right thing to do, regardless of the law.

  10. #10
    Forum Member gunnyv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasper45 View Post
    Gunny, we just had this very scenario happen during the last captains exam.

    One of our lieutenants, a CWO helicopter pilot in the army reserve was deployed to Iraq.
    Five months into his deployment was when the exam process occurred. He was given all material pertinent to the exam (love that internet), and upon his return stateside, was given the exam process.
    He scored well enough to place inside the top ten, out of about sixty. The list had already been hired up to about number thirteen or fourteen; I don't recall the exact number, not that it matters.

    He was promoted as soon as his exam result was able to be certified by the fire & police commission, and credited with all seniority due his ranking on the list.

    It was great to see the process work so smoothly. After all, it is only the right thing to do, regardless of the law.

    Jasper,

    Glad to see it worked. The law exists because other employers have fought to deny military personnel what we could consider their due. The following explains how it came to be, from a term paper I wrote on the subject last year:

    A Massachusetts police officer was deployed to Kosovo for one year with his National Guard unit. The promotional exam for the rank of sergeant was scheduled during the deployment. The officer arranged through his police chief and military commanding officer to take the exam in Kosovo. The officer took the exam three days after his comrades in Massachusetts, due to a delay in postal service. The officer scored highest on the exam. The officer who placed second appealed to the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission, which disqualified the reservist officerís score because he took the exam four days later. The ruling denied the officer his opportunity to take two later exams while he was subsequently deployed (Wright, 2005). In December 2005, the Department of Labor addressed this issue in a revised regulation, 20 CFR 1002.193(b), which states employers must provide the opportunity for a reservist to make up promotional exams missed while deployed.

    If the employee is successful on the make-up exam and, based on the results of that exam, there is a reasonable certainty that he or she would have been promoted, or made eligible for promotion, during the time that the employee served in the uniformed service, then the promotion or eligibility for promotion must be made effective as of the date it would have occurred had the employment not been interrupted by uniformed service (Department of Labor, 2005, p. 75307).

    Shortly after the revised regulation was issued, the arbitrator cited it during a case in Tempe, Arizona. The police officers union filed a grievance contesting a promotional exam taken at an off-site location by a member serving on active duty. The arbitrator cited section 4302(b) of USERRA:

    This chapter supersedes any State law (including any local law or ordinance), contract, agreement, policy, plan, practice, or other matter that establishes a right that reduces, limits, or eliminates in any manner any right or benefit provided by this chapter, including the establishment of additional prerequisites to the exercise of any such right or the receipt of any such benefit (Title 38, United States Code, 1994, p. 1).

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnyv View Post

    BTW, Bou, if he was a crash crew guy at Miramar I probably know him, at least his name.
    You might. I am not sure if he is assigned there or in HI.

    Question on the promotion process. What if the department fills ALL of the open positions? Or do they have to leave slots open for the person on leave?

  12. #12
    Forum Member gunnyv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CALFFBOU View Post
    You might. I am not sure if he is assigned there or in HI.

    Question on the promotion process. What if the department fills ALL of the open positions? Or do they have to leave slots open for the person on leave?
    Is his first name George?

    In the event they filled all the positions in the military member's absence, they would have to make one for him on his return. The seniority would be to the date he would have been promoted if he never left.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnyv View Post
    Is his first name George?
    Yes....We are talking the same guy. You gotta love GS!

  14. #14
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    Thanks for all the help. I will be studying/taking the ASVAB over the summer and see where it leads me.

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