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DoD News Briefing - Charles L. Cragin

Presenters: Charles L. Cragin, principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense, Reserve Affairs
November 02, 2000 10:00 AM EDT

(Also participating in this briefing was Thomas C. Irwin, chairperson, National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (NCESGR) and Bryan A. Sharratt, executive director, NCESGR)

Staff: Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, the Honorable Charles L. Cragin, and the official party.

Please be seated. At this time, I would like to introduce Mr. Bryan Sharratt, the executive director of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

Sharratt: Thank you all for coming this morning.

Secretary Cragin, distinguished guests, ESGR supporters, it is my distinct pleasure to welcome you to the most important event of the year for the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve: the presentation of the secretary of Defense's awards to the most outstanding employers of our Reserve components, the Employer Support Freedom Awards.

The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, or ESGR, was established by the president in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve component members and their civilian employers. We assist in the resolution of the many concerns that arise from an employee's military commitments, and today ESGR operates through a network of more than 4,500 volunteers staffing 54 committees located in each state, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

As most of you know, a lot has changed since ESGR was established 28 years ago. Today, our Reserve component members comprise nearly half of our total force, and we are asking more and more of our Reserve component members -- a 13-fold increase in manpower contributions, in addition to their training requirements, over the last decade.

And our Reserve component members have stepped up to the challenge, but so have their families and so have their employers. The employers that we honor here today are some of our real unsung heroes who make all this work and who go far beyond what is legally required in support of the National Guard and Reserve. So we thank you for your patriotism and your employer support of the Guard and Reserve that is keeping this nation strong and secure.

And now I'd like to introduce Mr. Tom Irwin, who is a vice president for operations of TWA and our national chair, to talk about our awards today. (Applause.)

Irwin: Thank you very much, Bryan. Secretary Cragin, distinguished guests, employers -- especially the employers -- and Guard and Reserve members, ladies and gentlemen. I just would like to tell you a couple of things about our awards program.

Our awards program is one of the several things that we use as principle elements in our work at the ESGR. And all ESGR employee recognition awards originate, actually, with the individual reserve component members that are in the employ of our nation's employers.

Military members recognize employers for support of employment practices and policies. And depending on the degree of support, the level of recognition rises from the local level to our highest level -- the Employer Support Freedom Award, which we are here to award today. But I would like to tell you about some of the other awards.

The first is My Boss is a Patriot, and it's a certificate appreciation and a pin. This one I'm proud to wear was one that I received a good number of years ago by one of my pilots at TWA who nominated me and TWA for that.

And the next award is the local ESGR Chair Award, and the territorial chairman gives this award in limited numbers and is presented annually in each committee. And it is designed to recognize those employers in that area who have gone above and beyond the legal requirements for granting leave of absence for their members.

The next level of the award is the Pro Patria Award, and it's presented to those employers who demonstrate exceptional support for our nation's defense by adopting personnel policies and regulations that make it easier for their employees to participate in National Guard and Reserve programs. Each committee may give only one Pro Patria Award annually.

That brings us to the Employer Support Freedom Award. This award, ESGR's most prestigious, is presented annually to an employer by the secretary of defense, and it recognizes the unique support for the National Guard and Reserve; for the very most supportive employers, and they receive it at this ceremony here annually.

The Secretary also recognizes four other regional nominees who are the finalists, which we have here today. ESGR processes more than 10,000 awards annually at all of those levels, and that number increases every year.

Today we are very pleased to have as our speaker this morning, Mr. Charles Cragin. Mr. Cragin is a person who has spent a great deal of his adult life in reserve service. He recently retired as a captain in the Naval Reserve after 36 years of dedicated service. And that, of course, overlapped with his various civilian responsibilities in the state of Maine as a lawyer and erstwhile nominee for various offices there, and also has done yeoman duty here in the nation's capitol, as chairman of the board of Veteran's Appeal at the VA, and most recently here at the Department of Defense where he now serves as the principal deputy assistant secretary for Reserve Affairs.

I've known Charlie Cragin for quite a few years. There's no person in the nation's defense organization who has greater dedication to the total force concept that we operate in our Department of Defense today than Mr. Charles Cragin.

Please join me in welcoming him. (Applause.)

Cragin:: Thank you. Tom, thank you very much for the kind introduction.

Tom neglected to report that Secretary Cohen selected him to be his principal adviser on employer support issues because Tom not only had the perspective, being an employer and being a manager of personnel in the civilian sector, but he had also served as a member of the Naval Reserve, retiring at the rank of rear admiral, and as a naval reservist had been involuntarily called to active duty during Desert Shield/Desert Storm. So he not only could talk the talk, he clearly could walk the walk. And we've very most appreciative that Tom has joined this team.

I see Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Ruby DeMesme with us. Ruby, thank you very much for joining us this morning. And also, thank you very much for giving up Mr. Bryan Sharratt, who served as Ruby's deputy in the Air Force. And Bryan joined us recently as the executive director. And I can tell you that the Irwin-Sharratt team along with all of the team at ESGR and the 4,100 volunteers around the United States have really made a difference. And it's a difference that we need, and it's a difference we have to continue to emphasize.

One little data point this morning. The last 18-year-old to be drafted into the United States military -- in other words, the last person to involuntarily join America's military -- is now 45 years old. It has been that long since we drafted anybody in this country. And we rely on an all-volunteer force. And 50 percent of that all-volunteer force are the men and women who live and work in the communities of America and who are employed by organizations such as the ones we recognize this morning. Fifty percent of America's military -- 19 percent in the Naval Reserve, the Coast Guard Reserve, the Marine Corps Reserve; 33 percent in the Air Force Reserve; and an overwhelming 54 percent of the United States Army -- is embedded in its Reserve component. Secretary Cohen has said on numerous occasions that we couldn't accomplish our missions for America's military today if we didn't increasingly rely on the men and women who serve in America's Guard and Reserve.

And when we increasingly rely upon the men and women who serve in our Guard and Reserve, we are placing a similar level of reliance upon their employers, upon the people in this country who actually produce this economy. And we understand and appreciate that there is no sort of redundancy in employment situations today. Everybody works and produces.

And so when we ask an employer to give up an employee, we are asking that employer to make a very specific and very personal contribution within the confines of that company.

So when you look at our military today, you see a force that is being utilized phenomenally different than it was just a decade ago, and a force that is a million fewer than it was just a decade ago.

Mr. Sharratt mentioned the increase in utilization. Just to give you a data point, 10 years ago, with 300,000 more members of our Reserve force, we contributed a million duty days a year to the active component. For the last four years, the members of the Reserve force -- 300,000 fewer -- have contributed 13 million duty days a year to the active force. That's the equivalent of adding 35,000 men and women to the active component. We couldn't do that, and America could not meet its mission requirements if we did not have supportive employers, supportive supervisors, people who understand that this really is a symbiotic relationship between employers and the men and women they employ.

Some time ago, I had an opportunity to be interviewed by Katie Couric on the Today Show, and I was explaining to her why we were calling up men and women for the Kosovo air war. And I said 55 percent of the air refueling capability of the Air Force is embedded in its Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, and just about all of the airlift in the Navy is in its Naval Air Reserve. And I talked about the fact that in the Army Reserve we have the Civil Affairs units that are constantly being called up for small-scale contingencies. And had it been a little more recent, I could have pointed to the 49th Division of the Texas Army National Guard, that deployed to Bosnia and took command of all U.S. military forces and multinational forces in Bosnia. Texas couldn't have done it without the phenomenal support of employers.

So Katie kind of made the observation, when I finished recounting this change in our force, she said, "Gees, Mr. Secretary, I didn't know that the 'weekend warriors' did all that." Well, I took the occasion, because my wife was pretty critical of me -- she said I flinched when Katie Couric said that -- I took the occasion to remind Katie, as Secretary Cohen reminded a group of business people about a year or so ago, that that term "weekend warrior" should be removed from people's vocabularies because it doesn't accurately reflect the contribution that these men and women make, and they make it more than one weekend a month.

General Sherrard, at the chief of the Air Force Reserve, and General McKinley, the deputy director of the Air National Guard, will tell you that the men and women who fly in their air crews fly eight and 10 and 12 days every single month. They couldn't do that without the support of their employers.

And I had an opportunity recently to express our appreciation, on behalf of Secretary Cohen, to Ford Motor Company for their support of our Reserve and Guard employees. And at the end of the presentation ceremony, the union official and the official of the company said, "Mr. Cragin, we should be giving the Department of Defense an award." And I went, "Why?" And they said, "Because you provide to us our best employees." These are people who know what it means to work on a team. They know what it means to aspire, to secure promotions. They know how to plan. They know how to lead. They are physically fit. They're not a drain on our experience-rated health plans, and they're drug-free. They are our best employees, and they are our best examples.

So it really is a two-way street and a symbiotic relationship. But we need to continue to foster and promote employer support of the Guard and Reserve, and this ceremony being presented by ESGR today is a perfect example of how to do that, because each corporate leader who is with us today could have complained about their call-ups of their people. They could have suggested that it meant economic/financial hardship for their companies. But each of these companies saw this particular sacrifice as an opportunity to serve America. Indeed, the outstanding support provided by Midwest Express, American Express, Framatome Connectors, TCDI, and Intel not only assisted the servicemen and -women they employ; they set an example for all of corporate America. If successful, cutting-edge companies such as these, leaders in their fields, see strong support for our military as an important civic responsibility, it will surely make an impression on businesses across our nation.

So I'm here to offer a very simple message. On behalf of the secretary of Defense, on behalf of the Guardsmen and Reservists that you support, and their partners in the active military, thank you. Thank you for your service to America's military and thank you for your full-time commitment to America.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, it's now my distinct honor and pleasure to present the Freedom Awards this morning. And what I would like to do is read the summary of why each of these recipients is receiving an award, and at the end of each summary we'll call the recipients forward for the presentation.

And I would ask Admiral Irwin and Mr. Sharratt to assist me in that endeavor.

The Freedom Award recipient for the Western Region is American Express. American Express employs more than 88,000 employees globally and more than 2,000 at its service center in Salt Lake City. During the past three years American Express has received numerous awards from ESGR. The company employs Reserve component members from all services and was cited for its outstanding support of the National Guard and Reserve. American Express gives military employees the latitude to take time off to perform extra duty that can further their careers and continues their benefits while they are away from the work place. The company publicly acknowledges and endorses the contributions of its employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve. Managers and supervisors at all levels of the organization support the company's personnel policies affecting Reserve component participation.

Representing American Express is Dorothy Anderson manager of public affairs, and Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Terry-Lynn Collins, who works at the American Express Service Center. Joining the group is the Utah ESGR Chairman L. Boyd Anderson.

Just like a paparazzi.

Well, there's too much technology.

Thank you, and congratulations.

Anderson: Thank you.

Cragin: Our next recipient, Framatome Connectors USA Inc., takes honors for the Northeast Region. Five of its nearly 800 employees serve in the National Guard and Reserve. The company has a comprehensive employee benefits package that demonstrates support for its National Guard and Reserve workers. Their compensation package includes pay differential between civilian and military salaries. The company retains employees' positions while they are away on active duty, and also provides them with medical, dental and life insurance coverage and makes 401(K) contributions. One of the company's military-friendly benefits allows Reserve component members to obtain up to a $5,000 no interest loan to help bridge the gap during a transition from civilian to military pay. Framatome Connectors believes that if they can make it easier for employees to perform their military duties and help alleviate concerns about families back home, this will create a win-win situation for everyone.

Representing Framatome Connectors is John Burns, senior vice president and general manager for the Electrical Group, and Army Reserve Sergeant Richard Robicheau. They're joined by my friend and colleague from New Hampshire, the ESGR Chairman Robert Dastin.

Boy, they're coming from the back row now.

Burns: Well, there's people in front of me. You got some good-looking people from New Hampshire here.

Cragin: Yeah. Thank you. Okay.

Burns: Thank you very much.

Cragin: Congratulations.

Robicheau: Thank you, sir.

Cragin: The Southeast Region award recipient, Technology Concepts and Design, Inc., aka TCDI, was cited for its personnel policies that encouraged participation in the National Guard and Reserve, such as not reducing pay during two weeks of annual training.

The company also made its private equipment and engineers available, at no cost to the Air Force, to support an operation. TCDI gives its employee Reservists the flexibility to support critical missions. In addition, the company actively hires military members leaving active duty service. In one case, the company held the position for which a military member had been hired, when he was not allowed to leave active duty service as early as he expected. TCDI enthusiastically recruits members of the National Guard and Reserve to join its staff of 35.

Accepting the award for TCDI is Jerry W. Eatherly, senior vice president for technical direction and development, and Air Force Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Salvador Batlle Batiya. They are joined by the Virginia ESGR Chair, Dr. Henderson P. Graham.

Receiving the award for the South Central Region is Intel Corporation. Employing more than 70,000 world wide, Intel's personnel policies extend beyond the requirements of federal labor laws affecting military service. Intel pays the difference between civilian and military pay during a two-week block of annual training. Along with monthly drills, the annual training is not deducted from accumulated personal or vacation time. The company provides military leave of absence for up to 30 working days during a rolling 12-month period. Also, there is no interruption of other company benefits when the military member is away from the workplace.

Intel's corporate culture encourages its hundreds of National Guard and Reserve employees to remain in the military. During peacekeeping missions to Southwest Asia, Intel employees hosted going-away and welcome-home parties for deploying military members and their families. Intel supports National Guard and Reserve service because they believe it is the responsibility of all citizens to serve their country.

Accepting the award are David Bagley , plant manager for Fab/Sort Manufacturing, and Army National Guard Capt. Mark Miera. They are joined by New Mexico ESGR Chair Norman L. Churchill.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, we've arrived at the high point of this morning's celebration. The recipient of the National Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award for the year 2000 is Midwest Express Airline. Midwest express does much beyond taking care of its passengers. And I can tell you that I can certify that because I hear about it every time I fly on Midwest.

We always go up to the cockpit and say, "Any Reservists up here?" and take the (inaudible).

The company is extremely supportive of its National Guard and Reserve employees. With a workforce of some 3,000, the company pays the difference between civilian and military pay for those who are deployed. Midwest Express extends other benefits, like medical, dental, life insurance, vacation pay and profit-sharing to deployed military members and continues to make 401(k) contributions.

A Midwest Express employee who recently participated in Operation Allied Force to Kosovo was personally remembered by his co-workers. He received an ongoing flow of e-mails, letters and packages, and the famous -- the famous -- Midwest Express chocolate chip cookies, across the Atlantic. Company employees at home teamed up to support his wife and family. Those at Midwest Express learned that while it was good for the Reserve force and good for the Reserve member and his family, it was also a very unifying experience for the company, as well.

Midwest Express not only strives to keep members of the National Guard and Reserve as employees, but actively recruits members of the National Guard and Reserve as employees. They view the Reserve forces as an elite and talented resource. They strongly believe that people with military backgrounds bring a wonderfully unique and diverse perspective to their employee base.

David Reeve, Midwest Express senior vice president of operations, is with us to accept the award. Lieutenant Colonel, Retired, Bruce Swezey of the Air National Guard and the employee who nominated Midwest is also on hand for the award presentation, and they'll be joined by Wisconsin ESGR Chair Frederick G. McCormick. Please join me in a rousing round of applause for our national (inaudible).

Reeve: Well, this is quite an honor for Midwest Express Airlines, not only as an employer, but to all of our employees. We think -- you know, our slogan is "Provide the best care in the air" to our customers. Internally, we like to think of our employees as our customers and to provide them, also, the best care.

I would like to just take a moment to reflect on what I think is the undervalue of the Guard and the Reservists in the country today, and this is just a little piece that we're doing for everybody, to try to raise and recognize the value of what the Guard and Reservists provide for us.

I have to reflect back on my own personal time. I spent two years as an officer in the Army Air Transportation Corps in '68 and '69 and I have to tell you, it was a very formative part of my career.

I know that I would not have been able to achieve where I'm at today without having that background in my own life.

So it's very easy for us to support Reservists and National Guard. We are looking at the top 10 reasons, and they really reflect a lot of the core values that we practice at Midwest Express. So we very much appreciate it. We're very humbled by this award, and we thank you all very much.

Cragin: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. And again, congratulations to our award winners. We had a little reception last night, and one of the nominating members also wanted to pass along his thanks to the Air Force for allowing your full-time people to fill in for them while they're absent at their regular civilian jobs.

That concludes our ceremony. Again, thank you very much, and congratulations.

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