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American dancers in Iraq


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Major Johnson, there will be an interview on National Public Radio's program "Here and Now" on Wednesday (19th of January) at noon that may interest you. The interview will be with "a career ballet dancer and combat soldier in Iraq who will talk about the tension between his two professions."


Unfortunately, I will not be able to tune in, but I hope you or someone else here will be able to listen and report back.


I thought I might be able to identify this guy by Googling him, but I was not successful. However, I did find that he is not alone. Danseurs and ballerinas alike (company members, even) are serving in Iraq. Alas, there have been some casualties in their number.


For those that do come back, whole and well, I'm curious - will they be able to resume their dance careers? Will USERRA cover them? What happens when someone comes home from the war and their position in the corps (the corps de ballet, that is) has been filled in their absence?

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Under the provisions of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Relief Act of 1943, if a dancer is involuntarily called into military or naval service (read, drafted), then the company s/he works for may hire a temporary replacement for him/her, but must take him/her back upon separation from the service. If the temp gets hired, too, or even promoted, then that's good, too. When all else fails, the servicemember may "bump" a temp out of the job on return to civilian life.


Uniformed servicemembers who are in the Reserves are in a slightly different position, having voluntarily made themselves available for callup, but that's what the USERRA covers.


National Guard or Naval Militia members are covered by similar state laws in the individual and several states if they are only activated for state service. If they are federalized, then USERRA takes over.

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