On Thursday, May 29, two members of the OIT received a Patriot Award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). This Department of Defense office was established in 1972 to promote the cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers.
Kelly McKinney and Chris Fruehwirth were nominated by co-worker Aaron Wright, Chief Petty Officer and Navy Reservist, who was deployed to Bahrain in 2013 for nine months.
The Patriot Award reflects the efforts made to support Citizen Warriors through a wide range of measures including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families and granting leaves of absence if needed.
“I wanted to recognize both individuals for their support while I was deployed,” said Wright. “Chris, my manager, kept me updated on the IT systems I was responsible for. We had regular one-on-one meetings via FaceTime.”
McKinney coordinated and sent several care packages to Wright that contained lots of goodies contributed by OIT staff members, including ND apparel, a Keurig coffee machine and K-cups, candy and pretzels.
When staffers gathered for the award presentation, Fruehwirth and McKinney had no idea they were going to receive the award — they thought they were attending a military presentation in which Wright would receive the award, which was presented by retired Capt. Dean Larson, U.S. Navy and ESGR representative.
Additionally, Aaron and his wife, Kris, were the first husband and wife in Indiana to nominate individuals at their places of employment for this special award. Any employee serving in the National Guard or Reserve, or the spouse of a Guard or Reserve member, may nominate individual supervisors and bosses for support provided directly to the nominating service member and his or her family.
For additional information on the ESGR, visit esgr.mil.
This story was originally published in NDWorks.