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168 Days: Deployment 2011

By Ken Snyder

Snyder On DeploymentAs I was reviewing the DOL's file on my case I was also preparing for another deployment. In the Air National Guard we don't usually deploy for long periods of time like Army National Guard units do, but we have the opportunity to deploy often. I took one of these opportunities in late May of 2011, to be a part of the largest air refueling operation in the world. The location is something not publicly discussed, but I can tell you it is in the southwestern Asia region and it supports multiple areas of responsibility -- we will have a presence there for a long time, so it won't be surprising that I'll have many more deployments there before I retire from the ANG.

Deployment Location PhotoDespite being over a third of the way around the globe, it was like this whole mess was right in front of me. 12-on, 12-off shifts, working five days, taking a day off and doing it all again didn't diminish it one bit. I spent my idle time doing research, looking into just about any and all Internet information about employment discrimination in general and USERRA in particular. There were more than a few cases that started to look like parts of my case -- could I find anyone that would really take the time to look at what I had and agree to take BPU on? I started keeping notes and compiling references on my laptop, building on a file I unsuccessfully presented to some attorneys already.

One thing I found incredible was that BPU had signed a "Statement of Support" with Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve ( ESGR). You have to be kidding! After the crap I've discovered so far there's no way they could say the support members of the National Guard or Reserves. I sent an e-mail to a local representative of ESGR -- no response.

While I was deployed I exchanged e-mails with Captain Sam Wright of the Reserve Officer's Association about my situation. He originally recommended an attorney, but the gentleman seemed uninterested in my case. What I needed was an attorney that was on top of their game, someone who knew USERRA inside and out and would not be intimidated by BPU. He recommended I talk with Ms. Kathryn Piscitelli.

Tent City

About a week before my deployment was over, I felt a "twinge" one day at the end of a fitness workout run. At first I thought nothing of it, it was just being worn out from the workout and I had the next day off so I just rested and thought I'd be OK. But the next duty night I went to direct a plane out and the "twinge" came back again, this time a little more painful. When I got to the medical detachment, the word came back I had a hernia that would have to be repaired once I was home -- this meant that the "deployment" would last a little longer than expected.

Once I was back home, I tried contacting some local attorneys and members of the media about my story. Everyone seemed too busy to take the time to look at what I had, even though at the time some of this was posted online -- another by-product of not having a lot to do in my off-duty hours. If I was going to get anyone's attention, I had to dig up as much as I could possibly find and package it up just right.


Next: Digging In The Dirt
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