Reservist Cites Healthcare Marketing Firm’s Superb Support
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2007 An Army reservist praised his civilian employer, Creative Healthcare Solutions, for providing exemplary support when he was deployed to Iraq last year, and the Defense Department is officially recognizing that support.
“They really went above and beyond in terms of not only supporting me, but also my family,” said Lt. Col. Thomas P. Weikert, 46, a marketing consultant who works out of his home office in Alpharetta, Ga., for the Scottsdale, Ariz.,-based company.
Creative Healthcare Solutions, a provider of marketing services to pharmaceutical and biotech companies, is among 15 businesses and organizations selected to receive this year’s Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. Weikert nominated his company for the annual award, which honors businesses and organizations that provide exemplary support for their employees in the Guard or reserve.
Weikert, a strategic-planning training officer in his military life, said he received differential pay and other benefits during his year-long Iraq deployment. He received care packages collected by his employer. Company representatives also took his two young sons to a National Hockey League game in nearby Atlanta during his absence, he added.
Creative Healthcare Solutions President Norman Stalsberg recalled that Weikert had about a week to prepare before he departed for Iraq. The 18-employee company quickly stepped up to help prepare Weikert and his loved ones for the deployment, the executive said.
“At that stage, pretty much all of our attention was put onto what we could do to help Tom and his family to make this deployment as least-disruptive as possible,” Stalsberg said.
Stalsberg was “surprised and humbled” that his small company was selected to receive a Freedom Award.
“From my viewpoint, it’s not about what we’ve done for Tom, but it’s really about what Tom and his fellow soldiers are doing for us,” Stalsberg pointed out.
Supporting employees in the Guard and reserve is important, because they’re “putting life and limb on the line to fight for what this country stands for,” Stalsberg said.
During his June 2006 to June 2007 tour of duty in Iraq, Weikert worked with senior U.S. and Iraqi military leaders in devising planning for the surge of forces in and around Baghdad. That important work was made easier, Weikert said, because he knew his family was being well taken care of back home.
“What they did for me really reflects how they feel about supporting the country,” Weikert said of his civilian employer.
The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award recognizes U.S. employers that rise above the requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Defense Department agency, manages the award process. ESGR assists Guard and Reserve members and their employers understand employee eligibility and job entitlements, employer obligations, benefits and remedies under the act.
Stalsberg will accept the Freedom Award on behalf of his company during a formal ceremony here Sept. 12.