New Hampshire State Police to Receive Employer-Support Freedom Award
By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 5, 2007 The New Hampshire State Police will receive the Defense Department's top employer-support award for the exceptional financial and emotional support it provides law enforcement officers who deploy as National Guard or reserve members.
New Hampshire State Police Capt. Stephen Barrett, an Army reservist who embedded with and trained elements of the Afghan National Army from August 2004 to July 2005, nominated his employer because of the unwavering support the organization demonstrated during his deployment. The New Hampshire State Police is one of 15 companies or organizations slated to receive the Secretary of Defense Freedom Award during a ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Building here Sept. 12.
While deployed, Barrett said, the police force continued to cover his and his families’ medical and dental insurance and financed various other benefits in his absence. Because Barrett’s military salary was lower than his police salary, New Hampshire State Police made up the difference, reimbursing all income lost.
As he supported Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, one of Barrett’s colleagues on the police force made sure Barrett’s wife and two young children were managing well. “In my case, there’s a neighbor who’s a (state) trooper, so he was checking on the house and was available if needed,” said Barrett, noting that such support alleviated some of the stress that stemmed from being away from home.
To keep him abreast of New Hampshire news, Barrett said, he exchanged e-mails frequently with his boss and fellow police officers. And when he received care packages, birthday and Christmas gifts from coworkers back home, Barrett said, it reminded him that he wasn’t forgotten by his buddies on the force.
“In a way, it brought home there,” he said. “The (sense of) belongingness was still there.”
Barrett said knowing that he had a job with New Hampshire State Police when he returned from deployment gave him one less thing to worry about. When he and other reservists and National Guard members came home after their tour, they were greeted with a hero’s welcome.
In keeping with New Hampshire State Police tradition, a half dozen troopers provided a special reception for the returning veterans, driving them in a police escort from the Massachusetts state line back home to New Hampshire.
“The state police has been here for us and for the other deploying members every step along the way,” Barrett said.
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.