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Deputy Legal Counsel for the Washington National Guard Honored by Department of Defense with prestigious Seven Seals Awards

Photo left to right: John Patterson, Washington ESGR State Chair, Maj. Alex Straub, Judge Advocate, Deputy Legal Counsel, Washington National Guard and Seven Seals Award Recipient

CAMP MURRAY, Wash. - Whether a fire, flood, landslide or mobilized for war, the citizen-warriors of the Washington National Guard are required to serve both the State and the Nation.  Each mission has separate employment and reemployment protections and may be confusing to those tasked to serve.  While on duty or during training sessions, National Guard members are typically under federal designations and, thus, are protected by the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). However, National Guard members are not under the protection of USERRA when the governor calls them to duty for a state emergency.

In light of challenges members of the National Guard face wearing these multiple hats, the Washington Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense (DoD) office, announced that Maj. Alex Straub, Judge Advocate, Deputy Legal Counsel, Washington National Guard, was honored with the prestigious Seven Seals Award in recognition of his extraordinary support of those who serve in the Washington National Guard.

The 2015 wildfire season was the largest in Washington state history, burning more than one million acres across the state from June to September.  In response to this major disaster, 1,500 members of the Washington National Guard were deployed by Governor Jay Inslee to fight these fires.  Under Straub’s guidance, the Washington ESGR Committee was able to point those service members with questions regarding their reemployment rights in the right direction.  Afterwards, it was recognized that National Guard members were lacking clear reemployment guidance while under state active duty service.  Taking a page from ESGR’s USERRA wallet card, Straub published a Washington National Guard wallet card outlining Washington state’s reemployment law and important contact information.  Also, Straub, by directing distribution of the wallet cards, ensured those National Guard members who were called-up were properly informed of their rights and responsibilities.

In a display of great appreciation and partnership, John Patterson, Washington ESGR State Chair, presented Straub with the ESGR Seven Seals Award during its 2016 Annual Employer Awards Banquet.  “Alex continues to assist our committee in many ways, and we are very grateful to work with a great ESGR ambassador.” Patterson said.  “He has been the torchbearer, assisting us with unit contacts, State Active duty, and most recently, submitting a proposed amendment to the State Active Duty Revised Code of Washington, resulting in changed legislation.”

The Seven Seals Award is the broadest and most inclusive award given by ESGR and is presented at the discretion of the state chair. The award is presented in recognition of significant individual or organizational achievement, initiatives, or support that promotes and supports the ESGR mission.  The Seven Seals Award is symbolic of the seven services: Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and Coast Guard Reserve. 

ESGR was established by the Department of Defense in 1972 to develop and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve service. ESGR advocates relevant initiatives, recognizes outstanding support, increases awareness of applicable laws, and resolves conflict between service members and employers. Paramount to ESGR's mission is encouraging employment of Guard and Reserve members who bring integrity, global perspective and proven leadership to the civilian workforce.