As if being ready to fight for your country isn't enough, imagine being a soldier overseas and worrying about your finances. Employers are required to hold jobs for National Guard soldiers who are deployed.
But they're not required to keep the paychecks coming. And for some soldiers, fighting for our country means taking a financial hit.
Private employers have a variety of policies. But as for public service, if you're a government employee and you're in the guard. You'd better hope you're not working for the feds.
It was early February when Lori Jackson said goodbye to her husband, Stephen, at Fort Stewart, Georgia. We interviewed them when Stephen’s guard unit was called up the day after Christmas.
Last Tuesday, Lori got her first letter from Stephen in Kuwait.
“Because of where he is, no communication via email he doesn’t have access to a telephone. I haven't talked to him in 32 days,” Jackson shares.
But the loneliness, and the extra house chores, aren't Lori’s only worries. Stephen was a federally employed airport screener. His soldier's salary doesn't match up.
But Leon County is a little different. On Tuesday, Leon County commissioners will reconsider their financial commitment to county-employed soldiers. They'll vote on a permanent policy to pay soldiers' families the difference between their guard pay and their county pay. They've been doing it temporarily.
Lori says she and Stephen are trusting that God will provide. But she can't help wishing Uncle Sam would provide a little more too.
Federal law requires employers to guarantee guardsmen their positions when they return, and 30 days health insurance.
The city of Tallahassee, Leon County, and the state of Florida have gone beyond that in making up the difference between a soldier's pay and their regular government pay.
They're also extending soldiers' regular benefits.