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Woman Sees Husband Off to Iraq, Gets Fired
By Associated Press
Caledonia, Mich: A woman who took an unpaid leave of absence from work to see her husband off to war with an Indiana National Guard unit has been fired after failing to show up for her part-time receptionist job the day following his departure.
"It was a shock," said Suzette Boler, a 40-year-old mother of three and grandmother of three. "I was hurt. I felt abandoned by people I thought cared for me. I sat down on the floor and cried for probably two hours."
Officials at her former workplace, Benefit Management Administrators Inc., a Caledonia employee-benefits company, confirmed that Boler was dismissed when she didn't report to work the day after she said goodbye to her husband of 22 years.
"We gave her sufficient time to get back to work," Clark Galloway, vice president of operations for Benefit Management, told The Grand Rapids Press for a story Wednesday.
He added that other factors were involved in the decision, but he declined to elaborate.
On Oct. 16, Boler went with her husband, Army Spc. Jerry Boler, 45, to an Indianapolis-area airfield, where he and others in his National Guard unit gathered to be transported to Fort Dix, N.J. The unit will soon be deployed to Iraq, where he will help guard convoys from insurgent attacks.
Although the Bolers moved to western Michigan 14 years ago, Jerry Boler, a diesel mechanic, decided to remain with his Bloomington, Ind.-based Guard unit, the 150th Field Artillery Regiment.
Suzette Boler had received permission to take off work the week leading up to her husband's departure. As a part-time employee at Benefit Management, she did not receive vacation pay and was not compensated for her time off.
She usually worked Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays answering telephones, entering claims information and greeting visitors and clients. Boler, who said she considers herself a reliable employee with good work habits, was employed at the company for 14 months and earned $9 per hour.
Boler recalled being asked, not ordered, to start back at her job Oct. 17, the day after her husband left. She told her bosses that she would try to return that day but if she could not, she would definitely be back Oct. 18, she said.
When Boler returned home from Indiana on the night of Oct. 16, a few hours after leaving her husband at the airfield, she said she felt drained by the emotional ordeal and decided to return to work Oct. 18.
But on the afternoon of Oct. 17, she received a call from work telling her to come in the following day and get her things because she was being fired. Her pink slip said the reason was she failed to show up for work Oct. 17, a Monday.
"If I had even an inkling that I would be fired for not coming in Monday, I would have been there," she said.