Wisconsin Firm Honored for Support of Guard and Reserve
By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 1996 A Wisconsin transportation firm earned high praise and honors from DoD for its support of its National Guard and Reserve employees Nov. 4.
Defense Secretary William Perry awarded DoD's first National Employer Support Freedom Award to Donald J. Schneider, president of Schneider National Inc. of Green Bay, Wis. The award recognizes the patriotism and sacrifices of employers who actively support their National Guard and Reserve employees.
Perry called Schneider National and the four regional winners model employers who provide a wide array of support to their reservists and guardsmen. He said those who look after their military members are "twice the corporate citizen" because they go the extra mile to support reservists [and guardsmen] and their families.
Schneider said the award symbolizes the quality of all the firm's military members and their deep commitment to freedom. "Our associates who serve in the National Guard and Reserve make a tremendous sacrifice during times of national need," said Schneider. "We as a company will do everything possible to support these associates and their families."
This support includes assigning a company sponsor to families of deployed service members to meet their personal needs. If the service member deploys for six months, the company also provides a benefits package that includes medical, dental, vision and life insurance.
Schneider National also provides counseling to remaining family members, helps them prepare wills, powers of attorney and estates, and provides them chances to speak with deployed employees using company phones at no cost.
Schneider said supporting the citizensoldier while maintaining a business is a major task. Of his 15,000 workers, over 1,000 serve in National Guard and Reserve units in Wisconsin. Yet he is more than willing to support his people not only for their service to the nation, but what that military experience brings back to the firm.
"The military is an excellent training ground for building discipline something all of us in logistics have to have when we do our job," said Schneider. "We've got a lot of people who work on their own, on the road and all hours of the day. Whether it be driving, conducting inventory or completing orders, responsible people have discipline to get the job done."
Defense officials selected the Wisconsin firm over four other regional winners, based on four standards outlined by Deborah Lee, assistant defense secretary for reserve affairs. She said nominees must show a willingness to support local Reserve and National Guard units and express that willingness to both the service members and the general public.
Lee said companies must also show they are ready to go beyond routine support, such as maintaining employer benefits and health plans while their military members serve. They must also continue to provide support and assistance to family members of those employees deployed.
Officials of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve said they received 26 nominations from the state and regional committees. A special review committee selected five organizations, representing the national committee's five geographic regions.
Regional winners were United Parcel Service's Central Florida District in Orlando, Fla.; National Life Insurance Co. of Montpelier, Vt.; McDonnellDouglas Corp. of St. Louis; and Tektronix Inc., of Wilsonville, Ore.
National Guard and Reserve personnel usually serve one weekend a month and two weeks a year in support of their unit mission. However, some units are deploying for up to six months, providing law enforcement, logistical support, medical treatment facilities and many other specialties. These skills expand the expertise and knowledge of the active duty force.
Over the past six years, thousands of Reserve and National Guard service members mobilized, leaving their jobs to serve in a variety of military operations. Reserve and National Guard troops deployed in Operation Desert Storm and to Somalia, and they assisted 10th Mountain Division troops in Haiti. They currently serve alongside active duty troops supporting Operation Joint Endeavor.