BOURNE, Mass. – The 211th Military Police Battalion, with the assistance of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, hosted an Employer Appreciation Day during the 211th’s annual training held at Camp Edwards, here, May 8, 2012.
“Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve is a Department of Defense agency that seeks to develop and promote a culture in which all American employers support and value the military service of their employees. It does so by advocating relevant initiatives, recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of applicable laws, and resolving conflict between employers and service members. The Massachusetts Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve has more than 45 volunteers dedicated to this mission,” said Sgt. 1st Class Richard Reynolds, program coordinator, ESGR.
Employer Appreciation Day’s are jam-packed with exciting training for employers.
“When working with the services, we ask that they provide hands-on equipment so that the employer can put him or herself in the Warrior's shoes. Flack-vests and helmets, weapons, vehicles, and even something as simple as sharing an Meal Ready to Eat, or in this case a marmite meal, has a direct and profound impact on the employer. A few of the most popular resources in the Massachusetts National Guard that gives us the biggest bang for our buck are the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000, the UH-60 Blackhawk Employer Orientation Flight and the F-15 Eagle ‘Pet a Jet’ and take-off demonstration,” said Reynolds.
Employer appreciation days take months to plan for both the ESGR and the unit that hosts the event.
“We initially, back in the November time frame, asked Soldiers if they wanted to submit their employers for Patriot Awards and that’s where we start,” said Sgt. 1st Class Bethany Kennaway, senior human resource noncommissioned officer, 211th Military Police Battalion.
From there, the Soldiers gave the Patriot awards out to their employers, said Kennaway. They used this information along with previous years of Patriot Awards to put together a list of employers they would invite. The total was around 35 and 17 came to the event.
Unlike most units, however, the 211th MP BN approached the ESGR to put together an Employer Appreciation Day.
“One of the best educational methods we have for increasing employer awareness and support is the Employer Appreciation Day. Normally Massachusetts ESGR approaches units to nominate employers for these events, however the leadership of the 211th approached us to support their plan to acknowledge supportive employers and to showcase the importance of partnerships,” said Reynolds.
Partnerships are especially important because a large number of Soldiers in the 211th work for the civilian police forces.
“In this organization there is a high amount of dual-career professionals, full-time civilian police and part-time Army National Guard Military Police. About 20 percent of our personnel are in that group and in that 20 percent there is a large amount of our senior leadership. Then there is the 40 percent who are aspiring to be in civilian law enforcement,” said said Lt. Col. Brett Conaway, battalion commander, 211th Military Police Battalion, and a Natick Police Officer.
Furthermore, the support from civilian police forces has been outstanding.
We have had a lot of support from civilian employers, especially the police forces, and we wanted to have a formal recognition for them. We also wanted to get them together here for an event so they can see what our training as military police can bring to the table, said Conaway.
In addition to the Patriot Awards, the ESGR and 211th MP BN handed out higher awards.
“Soldiers from the 211th MP's nominated 24 employers for the Patriot Award and invited them to this event. Of those present, two were acknowledged during the Employer Appreciation Day for their outstanding support with higher awards. The Above and Beyond Award was awarded to the Worcester Police Department. The Above and Beyond Award is the second in a series of ESGR employer recognition awards. It recognizes employers at the state level who have gone above and beyond the legal requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. Examples of above and beyond support include continuation of benefits, providing pay differential, keeping in contact with families of the deployed employee, and assisting with childcare,” said Reynolds.
“A lot of us get a tremendous amount of support from our employers,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Branley, battalion command sergeant major, 211th Military Police Battalion, and a Cambridge Police Officer.
Branley put his employer in for the Patriot Award, but was then approached by the ESGR for more information because the Cambridge Police qualified for a higher award.
“The Seven Seals Award named after the seven branches of service that form the reserve components and is presented at the discretion of the State Committee Chair, in recognition of significant individual or organizational achievement, initiative, or support that promotes and supports the ESGR mission. This award was proudly presented to Cambridge Police Department's Yellow Ribbon Program,” said Reynolds.
Employer Appreciation Day’s are important for employer’s to understand the true capabilities of Citizen-Soldiers and the modern National Guardsmen.
“Employer Appreciation Days serve as an opportunity for known employers of ‘Citizen Soldiers’ to visit with National Guard and Reserve forces and observe firsthand the type of leadership, management and technical skills training that their employee is receiving while he or she is serving America. Rarely do civilians have this unique opportunity to observe military training up close and personal and EAD's help to reinforce why members of the Guard and Reserve make good employees,” said Reynolds.