|Representatives of the six employment agencies honored at the 2010 ESGR awards banquet stand with their Pro Patria Award.
Story by Staff Sgt. Daniel Griego
The Employer Support of The Guard and Reserve recognized the outstanding efforts of one such support system at its annual conference, held March 25 and 26 at the Radisson Hotel & Suites in Austin, Texas.
The event honored six Texas employers with the distinguished Pro Patria award for celebrated appreciation of their guard and reserve employees.
Tyler Sieswerda, news anchor for ABC-affiliate KVUE-TV in Austin, served as the Master of Ceremonies for the awards banquet Thursday night.
"Pro patria is a latin term," Sieswerda said, "meaning for one's country. One of ESGR's missions is to recognize those employers who excel at supporting their employees serving in the Guard and Reserve."
Recipients included the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, Lubbock County Sheriff's Office, Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, TaxMasters, Inc., Tesoro Corporation and Texas Engineering Extension Service. All awardees are Five Start employers, having already received an Above and Beyond Award and special recognition for individual supervisors.
Dr. Jerry D. Icenhower, Chairman of the Texas Committee for ESGR, Ms. Pauline K. Brunelli, Acting Executive Director for ESGR, and Maj. Gen. Jose S. Mayorga, Commander of the Texas Military Forces collectively presented the awards to the representatives from each recipient agency.
"This year these outstanding organizations join the ranks of dedicated patriots who have supported our Citizen-Soldiers as they honorably fulfilled the call to duty to serve their state and nation," said Mayorga.
Employers awarded stood out for their commitment to their activated workforce. Support efforts included continuation of employment benefits during deployments or training missions, paid military leave, care packages and goodwill checks for families of deployed servicemembers, farewell and welcome home celebrations, hiring preferences and reintegration upon return from duty.
Also honored at the banquet was Col. (retired) Dwain James, recipient of the Order of St. Maurice Award, commonly called the Infantry Medal.
"The Order of St. Maurice Award," said Icenhower, "recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to the Infantry and demonstrates the highest standards of integrity and moral character."
Maj. Gen. Michael Ferrier, chief of infantry, presented the award to ames for his years of dedicated service and excellence both within the Infantry and ESGR.
It wrapped up the two day conference with a special tribute to the city of Austin, recipient of the ESGR Prominence Award.
Reinstituted in 2008, the Prominence Award recognizes the highest service an employer can bestow upon its workforce.
"The city of Austin," said Icenhower, "is receiving the Prominence Award for being one of America's leading employers in managing and caring for its employees serving in the Guard and Reserve. Austin is only the third Texas employer to receive this award."
Previously, Austin had received every award available from ESGR and the Secretary of Defense.
Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell accepted the award on behalf of the city.
"As a city government," said Leffingwell, "we are committed to go above and beyond the minimum federal requirements to support our military employees. They play a key role in our continued success as a city, and we are deeply appreciative of both their service to our city and to their country."
The military community can only succeed when supportive and caring individuals commit to shared goals. For the National Guard and Reserves especially, these goals include the solid and collaborative efforts of employers, families and friends working together to sustain its uniformed members.
"We congratulate all of our honorees," said Icenhower, "and convey our deepest gratitude for their sacrifices and unwavering support to our men and women serving in the Guard and Reserve to protect our nation."