Current U.S. troop deployments are affecting those who serve our country and their families, as well as the businesses that support their employees’ military leave. Approximately 1.8 million personnel are on active military duty, with an additional 860,000 active Reserves. As of November 2005, National Guard and Reserve units comprised 50 percent of the ground forces stationed in Iraq. To add to this burden, President Bush recently recommended the deployment of 6000 troops to patrol the Mexican border.

With increasingly longer military leaves (since 2001, the National Guard’s deployment policy has shifted from a 6-month to a 24-month maximum service overseas), companies must understand their legal obligations under military leave laws, specifically the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. Employers must be aware of what happens before, during and after their employees take military leave.

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