Michigan Sheriff’s Office Earns Award for Military Support
By Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 27, 2008 In Oakland County, Mich., every day is Veterans Day, thanks to strong military support from Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard and the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department.
The department is one of 15 organizations receiving the 2008 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award for outstanding support of its employees in the National Guard or Reserve. The department also is a co-recipient of the 2008 Michigan Employer Support Guard or Reserve Pro Patria Award.
Initiatives such as the “Every Day is Veterans Day” campaign launched by Bouchard’s department and other local organizations are a testament of the department’s respect and efforts to support military veterans.
The department is the first Michigan law enforcement agency to partner with the Army in the “Partnership for Youth Success Program,” which actively recruits armed forces members for employment. Because of the program and other initiatives, a number of reserve-component servicemembers, including 12 deputies, now work for the sheriff’s department.
Servicemembers welcomed into the department’s work force are provided the difference between their military pay and their sheriff’s department salary and full benefits for themselves and their families throughout their military career.
Deploying employees are given laptop computers purchased by the department for their personal use, while the department provides employees returning from deployments 10 days of paid time off in appreciation for their service.
The department also remembers its employees who were injured in combat. Employees recovering from wounds and undergoing rehabilitation continue to receive benefits and support from the department.
Bouchard recently was recognized by the Michigan Army National Guard with the Michigan Distinguished Service Medal for his exceptional support to deputy sheriff and Army Sgt. James McKelvey and his family while McKelvey recovered from injuries suffered during a deployment to Iraq.
Bouchard personally visited McKelvey on multiple occasions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here, and provided weekly updates of his recuperation to the department as well.
“It’s been an honor and privilege to work for the Oakland Sheriff’s Department,” said Shawn Wilson, who also is a U.S. Marine Corps Reserve corporal. “They continue to be a tremendous support system to the individuals who are deployed around the world and their families.”
Whether employees are deployed or at weekend and annual drills, they feel they are able to concentrate more on their military missions and obligations and worry less about their families because of the high level of support the department provides, Wilson said.
“Knowing that our families are taken care of at home allows us to more effectively focus on the mission at hand,” he said. “I will always be in debt to the Oakland Sheriff’s Department and its employees for providing my family with the assistance they did while I was deployed.”
The Oakland County sheriff’s office 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.