Penn State Law Veterans and Service Members Legal Clinic honored by Department of Defense
- PA ESGR
Pennsylvania Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense program, has announced that Professor Michele Vollmer (Director, Penn State Veterans and Service Members Legal Clinic) received the ESGR Above and Beyond Award in recognition of the extraordinary support of the Law School’s employees and all veterans who serve in the Guard and Reserve.
“The ESGR Above and Beyond Award was created to publicly recognize U.S. employers providing extraordinary patriotic support and cooperation to their employees who have answered their nation’s call to serve,” said William Burkhard, the state committee’s North Central Area Chair. “Supportive employers are critical to maintaining the strength and readiness of the nation’s Guard and Reserve units.”
“National Guard and Reserve members bring tremendous skills and capabilities to our workforce, and employer support for their military service is critical to maintaining the strength of our Guard and Reserve units,” said Burkhard. “By valuing the military service of their Guard and Reserve employees, employers are directly supporting the readiness and retention of our All-Volunteer Force, and our national defense.”
Veterans and Service Members Legal Clinic was founded in 2015 and according to Vollmer offers practical experience for law students as they provide legal assistance to veterans and current members of the U.S. Military. The clinic holds regular monthly Monday legal consultations for veterans and service members. Over the past three years, 16 graduates of Penn State Law have entered the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force.
Recognizing the potential of an ESGR and Law School partnership to extend the Clinic’s ability to support active Guard and Reserve members under the USERRA law, Vollmer and the Pennsylvania ESGR Ombudsman Director Terry Curran began coordinating student briefings three years ago. Curran briefing of USERRA are highly successful and have become an area of interest for Vollmer and students. The relationship between ESGR and the Clinic has the potential of becoming a model for partnerships for other state committees to foster. During the award presentation, Vollmer expressed an interest in becoming member and ombudsman of the state committee.
Penn State Law joins thousands of American employers who have reviewed and amended their current human resources policies to ensure compliance with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Many employers provide support far beyond what USERRA requires, including pay differential to offset the loss of wages, and extension of health care benefits to complement coverage provided by the military when their employees mobilized.
Vollmer remarked: “I am honored to accept this award on behalf of the clinic and Penn State Law. The work of ESGR is integral to educating employers and protecting the rights of service members in our state, and we are thankful to be a part of that important mission. We look forward to working with Curran on future briefings, trainings and ombudsman assignments.”
ESGR is a Department of Defense program that develops and promotes supportive work environments for service members in the National Guard and Reserve through outreach, recognition, and educational opportunities that increase awareness of applicable laws. ESGR also provides assistance in resolving conflicts between Service members and their employers.
For more information about ESGR outreach programs or volunteer opportunities, call 1-800-336-4590 or visit www.esgr.mil/pa.