Sheriff’s Office Earns Award for Military Support
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2009 Law enforcement and military service “go hand in hand” in Louisiana, and the Jackson Parish Sheriff’s Office truly believes in selfless service, Sheriff Andy Brown said.
That sort of thinking and culture of support for citizen troops has earned Brown’s department a 2008 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. The department is one of 15 employers receiving the award, which recognizes exceptional support to employees serving in the National Guard or Reserve.
Winning a Freedom Award is a “tremendous honor,” Brown said. But he added that supporting the needs of his National Guard and reservist employees is just a way for him and his department to contribute to the military’s missions at home and abroad.
Whether it’s continued health and pay benefits while deployed, it’s Brown’s policy to ensure his military employees and families are cared for, he said. The department gives full pay to its servicemember employees who are called away on duty for more than 12 months. It also provides indefinite health care, dental and life insurance benefits.
Brown also ensures that every supervisor and employee in his department thoroughly understands and implements servicemember rights spelled out in the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Act.
He said he demonstrates a positive attitude and displays concerns of support so that all leaders in the department understand his position.
“It is very important to me to try and give the Guardsmen [and] reservists and their family members a peace of mind during times of deployment by providing them with pay and benefits during that time,” he said. “I feel that way there is one less thing they have to be worried about.”
The department employs six part-time servicemembers. But many of its 110 employees formerly served on active duty or in the military’s reserve components. Brown said his department actively recruits former and part-time military members, because he greatly values military experience in his officers.
“I take advantage of the discipline and training that [current and former servicemembers] have received or will receive,” he said. “Law enforcement and the National Guard go hand in hand in our state due to the number of natural disasters which have occurred in our state in the last several years.”
Army National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Brent Barnett, a K-9 handler in the department, nominated Brown and the department for the Freedom Award. He said that although Brown has never served in the military, he should be described a “defender of freedom.”
“Sheriff Brown’s unwavering support to both veterans and current servicemembers is invaluable and a direct cause to deputies’ success in their careers as citizen-soldiers,” Barnett said in his nomination letter. “His practice of hiring retired and current servicemembers is a testament of his support to his community, state and country.”
The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve was established in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between reserve-component members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee's military commitment. It is the lead Defense Department organization for this mission.