posted on December 01, 2010 00:13
December 2010 Navy
By Beth Sherman, ESGR Public Affairs
Our country relies on the proven abilities and skills our Guardsmen and Reservists provide, and citizen warriors are a vital element of our national defense. Employer support allows members of the Guard and Reserve to carry out their mission and is a direct contribution to our national defense. Whether serving our country or supporting those who do, we all serve.
Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) is a Department of Defense agency, established in 1972, whose mission is to develop and promote employer support for Guard and Reserve service by advocating relevant initiatives, recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of applicable laws, and resolving conflict between employers and service members.
One way ESGR recognizes outstanding support is with the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. The award recognizes exceptional support from the employer community. This year, three of the 15 Freedom Award recipients were nominated by Navy Reservists.
Cheryl Graczewski is the wife of LT Tim Graczewski, a U.S. Navy Reserve officer who recently returned from Afghanistan. Her husband is also the Director of Strategy and Corporate Development at Intuit Inc., a California-based software company providing business and financial management solutions. “While being the wife of a deployed service member allowed me the opportunity to take pride in my husband’s work, it also brought challenges and worries,” said Graczewski.
Founded in 1983, Intuit’s military employees receive full pay and company benefits during deployments. “Intuit provided a significant counterweight to any financial worry we could have assumed; and they offer personal support for Tim, for me and our sixyear- old son. I can’t imagine a company more deserving of recognition for dedication to their military employees and their families.”
The Freedom Award is the highest recognition given by the U.S. Government to employers for the outstanding support of their employees serving in the Guard and Reserve.
With more than 160 Guard and Reserve employees, the Michigan State Police Department has extensive experience in supporting its Guard and Reserve service employees. “Without the financial and emotional support Michigan State Police provided both my family and me, I would not have been able to re-enlist to serve my country following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001,” said nominator Lieutenant Stephen Nowicki.
The father of two has been with MSP for 23 years and says the police department conducts departure ceremonies for each deployed employee and maintains constant contact with the service member throughout deployment. Upon return, each Guard and Reserve service member is guided through the reintegration process by a representative of the human resources division and offered counseling and information on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Guard and Reserve service members and their families are encouraged to nominate employers who have provided exceptional support of military employees. Nominations are being accepted at www.FreedomAward.mil through 17 January 2011.
In addition to the Freedom Award, a second way a Navy Reservist can say thanks to an employer is through the Patriot Award program. Supervisors qualify for recognition when they practice leadership and personnel policies that support employee participation in the Guard and Reserve. This past year, ESGR received a number of stories telling us about military spouses’ employers providing outstanding support to families of service members, along with recommendations to expand the program to include employers of military spouses for Patriot Award consideration. ESGR has answered the call; spouses can now nominate their supportive supervisor for the Patriot Award.
For one spouse, her supervisor shifted her nursing schedule when her husband deployed to allow the mother of three to continue working, but also to be at home for their children during the school year. When babysitter options became too difficult to coordinate, she was granted a leave of absence with no questions asked. Another spouse said her employer helps her with lawn care and sends care packages to her deployed husband.
All Guard and Reserve Service members and their spouses are eligible to nominate their employers for the Patriot Award. To do so, log on to www.esgr.org/PA. Each nominated supervisor will receive a DoD Certificate of Appreciation and a Patriot lapel pin. The certificate can be provided to the nominator for presentation to his or her employer, or presented to the employer by the ESGR State Committee.
While ESGR awards honor supportive employers, we can also help if you find yourself with a workplace problem or issue. Our customer service center is operational from 8 am to 6 pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday and can be reached by calling 1-800-336- 4590, or you can find many answers on our Web site at www.ESGR.mil.