Recent deployments test employer support

  • Published
  • By Capt. Tammy Lewis
  • 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Master Sgt. Mike McAdoo, a reservist firefighter with the 446th Civil Engineer Squadron here, is finally home after nearly a year. Coming home is even more enjoyable because his time on active duty did not break his bank account, thanks to the support of his civilian employer.

McAdoo is a firefighter for the local Lacey Fire District 3. He was one of more than 350 reservists in the 446th Airlift Wing here who were mobilized as a result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

When McAdoo was notified last October that he was being activated, he knew some things were going to change. Being activated meant leaving his civilian job, his family, and a big chunk of pay and medical benefits.

While he would have some medical benefits through the Air Force, the McAdoo family really did not want to switch providers.

"We have two girls in orthodontia," he said. "My wife really wanted to keep seeing who we see now."

Because of his wife's concerns, McAdoo asked if there was some way he could keep his current medical coverage. The Lacey Fire District agreed, keeping his coverage intact with no additional charge. He was thrilled and went about planning for the mobilization.

Not long afterward, McAdoo made a comment to a co-worker about having to tighten the belt on his household budget. When asked why, he explained he would be taking a 35-percent pay cut from what he typically made at his civilian job now that he was being activated.

"I wasn't looking for financial help," McAdoo said. "But the assistant chief went to the chief, and the chief went to the county board of commissioners. They felt it wasn't fair that someone should be penalized for going to work for (his or her) country."

With the board's approval, differential pay was authorized to make up the difference between what McAdoo made on active duty and what his civilian salary usually was.

"What they did was really generous," he said. "There was no policy in place before this. Now there is. It will help any member from losing an extravagant amount of money if (he or she is)activated."

Changing the policy was not an easy task. Not only did it take approval of the board of commissioners, it took changing a union contract.

"You are basically allowing one member preferential treatment," McAdoo said. "But they worked it out and added it to the union contract."

McAdoo is glad to be home for the time being. He is even more pleased knowing his employer supports what he does with the Air Force Reserve. He said he can sleep well knowing if the call comes again, there are a few less things he will have to worry about thanks to the support of his civilian employer.