ST. LOUIS - More than 1,600 members of the National Association of Postmasters of the United States attended their national convention in St. Louis where they signed a statement of support for their employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserves.

Dale Goff, Jr., president of the National Association of Postmasters, signed the statement on behalf of the organization on Wednesday, Aug. 27. The signing was particularly important because the U.S. Postal Service is one of the nation's largest employers of Guardsmen and Reservists.

The convention drew some very distinguished visitors for the signing ceremony. Thomas F. Hall, assistant secretary of defense for Reserve affairs, James Rebholz, national chairman of the Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, and retired Brig. Gen. Tracy Beckette, chairman of Missouri committee were all present for the event.

"The NAPUS organization is proud to demonstrate our support of Guard and Reserve members by signing the Statement of Support," Goff said. "Several of our members are in the Guard or Reserves and many supervise employees that are military members."

The association joins with thousands of America's employers in pledging to fully recognize, honor and enforce the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act. The pledge is a sign that their managers and supervisors will have the tools they need to manage those employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve, and to recognize and support our country's service members and their families.

"We encourage all postmasters to sign, and proudly display, a statement of support for their office," Goff said. "By signing you show support for those who choose to serve in the military and for their contribution to the defense of this great nation."

"It's really an honor to have the Postmasters national convention and their Statement of Support here in Missouri," Beckette said. "This is a way to say 'thanks' and set up a positive work environment for Guardsmen and Reservists. Being a military-friendly employer is key and the Postmasters will serve as a model employer."

Beckette also noted postmasters at the convention had a positive attitude for the military.

"The audience has been very supportive of us," said Beckette.

For Col. Steve Vanderhoof, the event was a confluence of three major parts of his life. In addition to serving the Missouri Guard, Vanderhoof is a retired postmaster and a program specialist for the Missouri Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

"The Statement of Support really shows the connection between the Postal Service and the National Guard and Reserves," Vanderhoof said. "The Postal Service is the largest civilian employer for Guard members, and it goes above and beyond what the law requires regarding benefits for Service members."

So far, more than 2,300 Missouri employers have signed statements of support. The Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve is a Department of Defence agency established in 1972. The committee's mission is to gain and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve service by recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of the law, and resolving conflicts through mediation. Volunteers provide free education, consultation and, if necessary, mediation for employers of Guard and Reserve employees.

For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please call 1-800-GoGuard or visit