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Company Closes Ranks to Support Guardsman

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2009 – When Army National Guardsman Sgt. Michael Scaglione announced he was being deployed to Iraq, he knew he could count on his family.

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Marissa, left, and Myca Scaglione's father, Army National Guardsman Sgt. Michael Scaglione, is currently deployed to Iraq. He recently received this photo from his daughters who are being cared for by their grandmother and uncle. Courtesy photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

His mother and brother would be looking after his two girls, Myca, 13 and Marissa, 11. And his extended family, also known as his colleagues, would be looking after all of them.

“We are a small company and pride ourselves on being a family. Michael Scaglione is part of our family,” said Steve Dickert, general manager of North Carolina-based AeroDyn Wind Tunnel. “As such, we take care of his needs like anyone else in the family. It just so happens that for this period of time, his needs are much greater than some of our other family members.”

The company pays the difference between his civilian and military salaries. It also covers 100 percent of the premiums to maintain his medical insurance. But that’s just the beginning of the list of what AeroDyn, a company with just 15 employees, about 25 percent of whom have a military background, has done for Scaglione and his girls.

“AeroDyn has taken on the responsibility to make sure all of the ‘mechanical’ things regarding his home and infrastructure remain in good repair and operational,” Dickert said.

And that was enough to prompt Scaglione to nominate AeroDyn for a 2009 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. The award recognizes public and private employers for going above and beyond what’s required by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve manages the award.

The company was selected as one of the 15 recipients, an unexpected honor.

“We are extremely honored, and very surprised, to be nominated for the … award,” Dickert said. “We continue to feel that we are just doing what is right by our soldier and our company [and] it is beyond us why any company would not do the same for any of their employees.”

Scaglione, who is currently deployed, wasn’t surprised AeroDyn is receiving the award, just proud. “I really feel that they deserve it,” he said.

When they found out he was being deployed, the owner and bosses asked what they could do for him and his family beyond continuing his benefits and meeting his pay differential.

“But they asked to do more,” Scaglione wrote from Forward Operating Base Falcon, Iraq. “So I asked if they would split a life insurance policy with me. They said it was taken care of. It doubled the max that the Army offered and I didn’t have to split the cost.”

Even then company official weren’t satisfied that they were doing all they could to support Scaglione, so they closed the company, a 24-hour-a-day operation, for one night and threw him a going away party.

And still the surprises kept coming.

“They had purchased over $2,000 in gift cards so my two daughters could keep doing what we did as a family while I was gone,” he said. “They also purchased myself and the girls Web cams so we could stay in touch.

“The [Information Technology] guy … just went to my house to help the girls with their computers,” Scaglione added. “During my deployment, the guys have taken my girls out to eat and called to check on them many times.”

After learning the company had been selected for the ESGR award, AeroDyn officials asked Scaglione if they could take his daughters to Washington for the Sept. 17 award presentation. Then the owner’s wife took them shopping for special outfits for the big night.

“This deployment has been hard on my mother and my two girls, but thanks to AeroDyn Wind Tunnel they haven’t had to do without things they normally have when I was home, and you can’t ask for much more than that,” Scaglione said. “I do look forward to this all being over and getting back to my family, my job and my old unit, but till then I know AeroDyn Wind Tunnel has my back.”

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Related Sites:
Special Report: 2009 Employer Support Awards
Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award
Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve
National Guard

Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy National Guardsman Sgt. Michael Scaglione is currently serving on Forward Operating Base Falcon, Iraq. He anticipates being away from his civilian job with AeroDyn Wind Tunnel in North Carolina, for 14 to 16 months. Courtesy photo  
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