Lt. Col. Ingrid Moertl (right), a member of the 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, presents a Patriot Award to Kimberly Wiltshire, the human resources manager at the Kraft Foods Oscar Mayer plant in Columbia, Mo., for her outstanding support during Moertl's five year absence for military duty. (Photo by Sarah Lupescu, Missouri National Guard public affairs office).
By Sarah E. Lupescu
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Two employees at the Kraft Foods Oscar Mayer plant in Columbia were recognized recently for their outstanding military support by the Missouri Committee for Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve.
John Strotbeck, the Oscar Mayer plant manager, and Kimberly Wiltshire, the human resources manager, received Patriot Awards. The Patriot Award is awarded to individuals for being a patriot employer and for contributing to national security and protecting liberty and freedom by supporting employee participation in America's National Guard and Reserve force.
Lt. Col. Ingrid Moertl, a member of the 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, nominated Strotbeck and Wiltshire for the award.
"While I was deployed I asked ESGR if Kraft could be recognized," Moertl said. "ESGR agreed that Kraft should be recognized as they had supported me through a very short notice deployment that lasted almost five years. I was provided 30 days notice of the deployment. That time included a trip to Nashville, Tenn. and Birmingham, Ala., for processing as well as a 10-day trip to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait for a pre-deployment site survey."
After spending nearly five years away from her civilian job, Moertl was more than ready to return to her work at Kraft Foods. Kraft was also more than ready to have Moertl return to work.
"We're glad she came back excited and willing to work," Wiltshire said. "I told her when she came back that I appreciated her. I told her thank you. I didn't even know her that well because I started working here after she had already deployed."
Strotbeck knew the Patriot Award was coming, but it was a surprise for Wiltshire.
"I am in awe because it never crossed my mind that Ingrid would nominate us," Wiltshire said. "I am proud of the award and excited to share it with my corporate team. I'm honored and it means a lot."
Supporting military members is a top priority at the Kraft plant, Wiltshire said.
"John Strotbeck and I know we have employees in the Guard and Reserve," Wiltshire said. "We know that sometimes they have to leave, and when they do we don't even blink an eye. We just staff up, it's never an inconvenience."
The Kraft Foods Oscar Mayer plant in Columbia celebrated its 25th year of operation in 2011. The plant makes the majority of Oscar Mayer hot dogs. Oscar Mayer is one of Kraft's 12 brands that generates revenue of more than $1 billion annually. Nearly 600 people work at the Columbia Oscar Mayer plant, which runs seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
ESGR is a Department of Defense agency whose mission is to gain and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve service by recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of the law, and resolving conflicts through mediation. ESGR provides a bridge between employers and their employees that serve in the Reserve components. Their role is to ensure the transition from civilian employee to active military duty and then back to civilian life is as smooth as possible.
For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please visit www.moguard.com and our social media sites: www.facebook.com/Missouri.National.Guard; www.twitter.com/Missouri_NG; www.youtube.com/MoNationalGuard; www.myspace.com/missouri_ng; www.flickr.com/photos/missouriguard; www.moguard.com/blog; www.pinterest.com/monationalguard/
Lt. Col. Ingrid Moertl, a member of the 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, presents a Patriot Award to John Strotbeck, plant manager at the Kraft Foods Oscar Mayer plant in Columbia, Mo., for his outstanding support during Moertl's five year absence for military duty. (Photo by Sarah Lupescu, Missouri National Guard public affairs office).