Company Focuses on Families to Support Military Employees
By Sara Moore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2008 Kim Robinson knows that when military members deploy, they face a lot of stress overseas on top of worrying about their families at home. To help alleviate that stress, Robinson has committed to do what he can to ease the burden on the families of his employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve.
Robinson’s company, Robinson Transport, of Salina, Utah, provides $1,000 a month to the families of employees who are deployed with the National Guard or Reserve. This money is meant to supplement the family’s income, and the company still pays all company bonuses, as well as full life, health and dental insurance for the deployed employee.
For its efforts to support employees who serve in the reserve forces, Robinson Transport is receiving the 2008 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. The award is the highest honor a company can receive for its support of military employees.
Robinson Transport has seven employees in the National Guard or Reserve, all of whom have been deployed within the last five years, Robinson said, adding that he’s happy to do what he can to support his employees while they’re serving the country.
“They’re over there fighting for my freedoms, which I enjoy very much, and they’re leaving their families and their wives, and most of them have smaller children,” he said. “They’re over there worrying about their life for one thing, but on the other hand, they’re worrying about what their children and their wives are going through. If I can help them that way, then that’s a little less worry that they have.”
Robinson Transport, which has about 130 employees, also supports its deployed employees by keeping in close contact with them via e-mail, and the company has contributed $5,000 to provide faster Internet service to deployed personnel.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Roger Orton, who has served for 33 years in the Utah National Guard, nominated Robinson Transport for the Freedom Award because he saw their dedication to military personnel firsthand. Orton has been a truck driver with Robinson for 26 years, and in 2006 he was deployed to Afghanistan. While he was gone, someone from the company called his wife at least twice a week to check on her. They also paid her the $1,000 a month, even though Orton told his boss that he actually made more money while deployed than he’d been earning at Robinson Transport.
“I asked them why they thought they needed to do that, and they said it was to ease the pain of us being gone and that it was a small price to pay for what we were doing,” Orton said. “It’s too bad all employers aren't this good to work for, and it’s easy to see how easy it is to work for them for 26 years.”
Orton said that several other members of his unit also work for Robinson, and the company always has accommodated them when it came to taking time off for drill weekends and summer training. He said when he came back from Afghanistan, he talked to the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve representative from Utah, who told him that he had received many letters telling him how supportive Robinson Transport is of its military employees.
Orton said he enjoys working for Robinson because the management is caring and supportive. “You go to work every morning knowing that you work for good people,” he said. “There's no other employer that tops them. They deserve the red carpet treatment from the Army for what they do.”
Having employees who also serve in the military, like Orton, is helpful to the company, Robinson said. “They’re all pretty humble people anyway, but when they come back they’re so appreciative,” he said of the National Guard and Reserve employees. “With the other people listening to them out there on a daily basis, I think it makes the other people better Americans and makes them appreciate what they really have here.”
Robinson said he’s always thought of himself as patriotic, but was completely surprised to hear his company was receiving the Freedom Award.
“It’s a great honor for me to be selected as one of the recipients,” he said. “For my employees to nominate me for that, that was an awesome thing. I’m just proud to be a part of it.”
Robinson Transport will receive the Freedom Award, along with 14 other companies, in a ceremony Sept. 18 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center here. The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve to recognize exceptional support from the employer community.