Training day

Webster City business leaders got a glimpse into training operations at Camp Dodge Joint Maneuver Training Center in Johnston on Wednesday.

At the Iowa National Guard installation, participants toured training areas, took part in simulations and learned more about the Iowa ESGR, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, who hosted the event.

After arriving on Wednesday morning, business leaders were taken on a tour of the Sustainment Training Center at Camp Dodge. Operations Sgt. Rob Vogel lead them through the center, highlighting maintenance training vehicles, a communications simulator, a circuit card repair lab and many other opportunities that soldiers from across the country come to Camp Dodge to utilize. Vogel said members of the National Guard learn many skills that are valuable inside and outside of the military.

“I appreciate employers that appreciate this kind of thing,” Vogel said. “It’s very near and dear to me that you support soldiers that you have employed at your different organizations. I really appreciate that you show the willingness to come out and learn what they do in order to support them.”

Local business leaders had a chance to take part in some of the training opportunities at Camp Dodge. In small groups, participants took the driver and gunner seats in a virtual convoy operations trainer. With virtual reality headsets on, they were challenged to work together as a team, avoid roadside explosives and neutralize enemies. Their virtual training continued at an engagement skills trainer where attendees tested their skills on an electronic firing range.

Several non-virtual training tools were also explored. With helmets and jackets on, participants went into an egress assistance trainer, which simulates a vehicle rollover. After their seat-belts were strapped in, the large device began to roll slowly. After several flips, participants were again tasked with unbuckling and reorienting themselves. Then, they worked together to find out which door was left unlocked and then exited the vehicle with each other’s help.

Participants also took a 20-minute flight in a brand-new Chinook Helicopter and had an hour to explore the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum.

The day’s events served as a way for the local business leaders in attendance to understand what Iowa National Guard Reserve members that might be under their employ train to do. Dick Rue, chairman of the Iowa ESGR, said the organization’s primary mission is to support relationships between business owners and members of the Reserve. He said they do that through outreach at events like this one, mediating disputes between members of the Reserve and their employers, and supporting members of the military with job opportunities.

Iowa ESGR Program Support Advisor Rebecca Coady said that, as the military looks to withdraw from conflict overseas, the number of full-time active duty and reserve guardsmen will be reduced. As such, those guardsmen will be seeking employment. While Coady said members of the Reserve will have to take time off of work for annual training, Webster City Area Chamber of Commerce Director Deb Brown is excited to see more of them entering the civilian work force.

“We’ll take them in Webster City,” Brown said.

Coady said the Iowa ESGR offers free classes about the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act and often advises businesses on labor laws pertaining to members of the National Guard and the Reserve. For more information on the Iowa ESGR, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/IowaESGR.