An internal battle has erupted within the Newport Beach Lifeguard ranks between the Management and the Part-Timers, but this time, it’s not about what you may think.
Instead I want to help expose the Newport Beach Full Time Lifeguards not welcoming Military veterans back to the Newport Beach lifeguard ranks. And you thought the nepotism and cronyism in the Newport Beach Police Department was bad…
Back in 2007, former Part-Time Newport Beach Lifeguard, and Army Paratrooper Austin Honrath, was wounded by a suicide car bomber in Iraq, an attack that also killed one of his fellow soldiers. Upon returning home to Huntington Beach, a fully recovered Austin wanted to return to the Newport Beach Lifeguards, saying that he “looks to the five years he worked with the Newport Beach Lifeguards as a contributing factor in his success as a soldier, as it taught him to keep composure in stressful situations and how to serve the people around him.”
So he contacted his former bosses. Instead of a warm welcome back Fire Department and the Human Resources Department of Newport Beach stalled and stalled.
There was no job waiting for him when he came back from Iraq.
Now, under the Military Leave Act, or Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, employers must allow service personnel to return to their civilian jobs after their tour of duty is complete, and that applies to all employers, regardless of size, and to part- and full-time positions. However, the job of a person serving in the military is protected for five years. If the person serves in the military for a longer amount of time, the employer is not required to reinstate the employee.
Austin sent in his request well within the five-year period, called and emailed his former superiors, but didn’t hear back in an official capacity until…guess when…after the five-year period was over.
Someone from the City’s Attorney’s office even checked in with him to make sure Austin wasn’t going to press the issue, he said.
Let’s see. He had the proper training to be Army Paratrooper, he had the proper training to take a bomb to his face for his Country, but he didn’t have the proper training to drive a truck around the beach and sometimes save another’s life…? Oh wait…he must have had his fill of saving lives while he was in Iraq.
OK, so now let’s also consider another former Part-Time Lifeguard, currently in the United States Air Force (and still is in Afghanistan), Brandon Blosser.
In a recent email exchange between Blosser with Newport Beach Lifeguard Management, Brandon, in January 2011, told a Lifeguard supervisor that he had a 50-50 chance of coming home from Afghanistan this summer and asked if he could come back to work as a Part Time Newport Beach Lifeguard.
Instead of the warm welcome back for serving our Country, a welcome back for risking your life so that we may live in Freedom in beautiful Newport Beach, Brandon received a “Thanks, but No Thanks” response fthat even suggested that Brandon request a “voluntary termination,” due to not being up to date with certifications, trainings and procedures…nevermind the fact that Brandon IS STILL IN AFGHANISTAN.
This email cited “the chain of command” and said that because Blosser was already granted a Leave of Absence for 2010, a second one would be a bad precedent for other employees.
The Battalion Chief concludes his email with, “I have enjoyed working with you and I hope you will always see yourself as a part of the Newport Beach Lifeguard family.”
(Excuse me while I punch the wall…)
Essentially, it if you are fighting for your Country over in Afghanistan, only do it for a certain amount of time, and although you are trained by the United State Government to protect our freedoms and fight terrorists on their own turf, you are not properly trained to save lives in Newport Beach? Sounds about right…
Let me say it here: A BIG Thank You to Brandon Blosser and to Austin Honrath for letting me and my children sleep peacefully at night here in Newport Beach by serving our Country.
And SHAME on EVERYONE in the Newport Beach Lifeguards, Fire Department, Human Resources…whomever, for not welcoming them back with open arms, giving them keys to the City, and whatever the heck else these heroes want.
Researching this made me sick to my stomach.
This is no way to treat our Veterans.
God help them for what they’ve experienced.
Thank God for letting them come home safely.
And I pray to God to keep those safe who are still overseas fighting for us.
Hopefully, this isn’t the end to this story.