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Deputy Defense Secretary Calls Employer Support Critical

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2009 – The military is fortunate the nation offers its unbridled support and backing to its military employees, the deputy defense secretary said last night.

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Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn leads the honors for 15 winners of this year's Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award at the annual award ceremony in Washington, Sept. 17, 2009. DoD photo by Samantha L. Quigley
  

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“The partnership between the civilian employers and our members of the Reserve and National Guard is critical to our nation’s success in almost every endeavor the department undertakes,” said William J. Lynn, during his address to those gathered here for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve’s annual award ceremony.

The ceremony honored 15 employers with the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award for offering their military employees support above and beyond what the law requires.

“There are three interrelated and mutually dependent elements to our success,” Lynn said. “First, our talented and dedicated servicemembers. Second, their loving and supportive families. But third, their awesome civilian employers who we’re here to honor tonight.

“It’s the knitting together of all three that binds together the strength of our force,” he added.

This year was a record-breaker for nominations of outstanding employers. More than 3,000 were received across the three categories: large businesses, small businesses, and public-sector employers.

“It sounds like nearly all of them nominated their employers for this award, which is just terrific,” Lynn said.

A few of the servicemembers who submitted nominations this year expressed their appreciation for their employers at the ceremony.

Army Reserve Maj. Tom Castellano, a technology specialist with Microsoft, has served two tours in support of operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom.

“I want to thank Microsoft publically for their outstanding support,” he said. “I nominated [them] for their dedication and their commitment to military families on an individual [level].

“At my own personal level, Microsoft provided differential pay and benefits for the entire year I was supporting the war efforts,” he added. “It was my first tour [since starting] with Microsoft … in military terminology; they were pretty much protecting my … 6 o’clock position.’

Microsoft also supports the USO, the Fisher House program and Hire America’s Heroes. In 2007, the company donated $3.7 million to the National Guard Youth Foundation.

Louisiana Army National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Brent Barnett said he was proud to work for Jackson Parish Police Department’s Sheriff Andy Brown who, even though he’d never worn the uniform, epitomizes the qualities of a military noncommissioned officer, he said.

“The opening statement of the creed of the noncommissioned officer says that, ‘No one is more professional than I,’” Barnett said. “It’s an honor to work for a person of his character.”

Brown is a staunch supporter of the Louisiana National Guard, supports family unit activities with equipment and K-9 demonstrations, attends field training exercises and has toured Guard facilities and installations.

“He’s gone as far as, during state emergencies, to lend out department equipment, mobile field units, to support our movements throughout the state of Louisiana,” Barnett said.

Small employers may have it the hardest when it comes to temporarily losing a military employee to deployment, said Leon Harris, the master of ceremonies and a local ABC news anchor.

That didn’t stop AeroDyn Wind Tunnel from going beyond above and beyond, according to the company’s nominator, Army National Guard Sgt. Michael Scaglione.

“I’ve been at AeroDyn about six years and I don’t think I have enough time tonight to tell all they’ve done for me,” Scaglione said with a smile. “When they found out I was getting ready to deploy for Iraq, they had one question: What do I need? I asked for more life insurance.”

Scaglione got the life insurance and a whole lot more, he said, including peace of mind that his two girls wouldn’t be jolted out of their routine. During his going-away party, hosted by the company -- a 24/7 operation that shut down for the event -- his girls got a big gift.

“They gave my daughters over $2,000 in gift certificates so they could to the movies, they could go out to dinner, go shopping and do whatever they needed for the year I’m gone,” Scaglione said. “That was remarkable to me.”

Even more remarkable, someone from the company calls the girls each school morning to make sure they’re up and ready for school, just like Dad did before he deployed, which he will be for at least another four months.

His command agreed to extend his two weeks of rest and recuperation leave so he could attend the ESGR event.

Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, addressed the crowd before dinner was served. The ceremony concluded with the presentation of 15 crystal eagle statues to the employers deemed the “best of the best” by this year’s award selection committee.

Contact Author

Biographies:
Jill Biden
William J. Lynn

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

Related Articles:
‘Second Lady’ Lauds Employers for Support of Military Employees


Click photo for screen-resolution imagePresident of AeroDyn Wind Tunnel Gary Eaker accepts a Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award in Washington, Sept. 17, 2009. He is joined by Dennis McCarthy, assistant defense secretary for reserve affairs, standing left, and Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn, standing right. His fellow recipients are, from left, 1st row, Richard Fonte of AstraZeneca, Charles Mike Goss of Consolidated Electrical, John Gremp of FMC, Michael Capellis of First Data, James Christiansen of NetJets, David McIntyre of TriWest Healthcare Alliance and Robert Youngjohns of Microsoft. 2nd row, from right, Gerald Reardon of the Cambridge, Mass., Fire Department; Henry Guzman of the Ohio Department of Public Safety; Paul Walters of Santa Ana, Calif., Police Department; Andrew Brown of the Jackson Parish Sheriff's Department, Norman Hall Brooks Jr., Law Offices of Marks, O'Neill, O'Brien and Courtney; and Donald Flores of Mid America Kidney Stone Association. DoD photo by Samantha L. Quigley  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDavid McIntyre, president and CEO ofTriWest Healthcare Alliance, accepts the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award from Dennis McCarthy, assistant defense secretary for reserve affairs, left, and Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn, right. The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve’s ceremony took place in Washington, Sept. 17, 2009. DoD photo by Samantha L. Quigley   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy National Guard Sgt. Michael Scaglione explains to those gathered in Washington for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve's annual award ceremony why he nominated his employer, AeroDyn Wind Tunnel, for a Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom award. Fourteen other employers who offered their military employees similar support also received the award. DoD photo by Samantha L. Quigley  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageJill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, addresses a crowd gathered for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve’s annual award ceremony in Washington, D.C., Sept. 17, 2009. Fifteen employers received the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award for going above and beyond what the law requires in support of their military employees. DoD photo by Samantha L. Quigley  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageThe City of Cambridge, Mass.. Fire Department Fire Chief Gerald Reardon, center, accepts the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve's Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award from Dennis McCarthy, assistant defense secretary for reserve affairs. The ceremony took place in Washington, Sept. 17, 2009. Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn, right, assisted in presenting the awards. DoD photo by Samantha L. Quigley  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Reserve Maj. Tom Castellano explains to those gathered in Washington for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve's annual award ceremony why he nominated his employer, Microsoft, for a Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. Fourteen other employers who offered their military employees similar support also received the award. DoD photo by Samantha L. Quigley   
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