ESGR honor Missouri employers for Guardsmen and Reservists support

United States, Region 6, General Services Administration in Kansas City received the prestigious Pro Patria Award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve

By Jennifer Archdekin

KANSAS CITY - What sets National Guardsmen and Reservists apart from other service members is that they serve in the military part-time and traditionally also work in the civilian workforce. When they are called to serve overseas on a year-long deployment, or for two weeks in the summer during their unit's annual training, their employers are faced with the hardship of accommodating their absence.

The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve goes the extra mile to recognize employers that not only accommodate their military employees, but supports their mission whether at home or abroad. On Friday, Aug. 27, at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City, the Missouri ESGR handed out awards during their annual planning and awards conference.

Retired Brig. Gen. Tracy Beckette, state chairman for the Missouri ESGR committee, said these awards begin with the Guardsman or Reservist that has been touched in some way by their employer's act of kindness towards his or her service to America.

"Troops have no idea how much support there is out there for them," said Beckette. "It starts with the Service member. That's the key. They write up and nominate their employer."

One of the top honors given at the banquet is the Pro Patria Award. The United States, Region 6, General Services Administration of Kansas City, for public organizations took home the honor. Capt. Chris Powers, of the Missouri Army National Guard's 1138th Military Police Co. in West Plains, nominated his employer.

Powers, who is an asset manager for GSA, was recently deployed to Baghdad with his unit. Not only did he leave behind his job, but a wife, two children and a home. Powers said that GSA supported him with care packages and constant communication while he was gone, but they also looked after his wife Crystal, who is also employed by GSA.

"They are just like my family," said Crystal, who also works for GSA. "They supported me. We bought a new house while he was gone and associates helped by coming out and doing everything for me."

Mary Ruwwe, GSA regional commissioner, recognizes that it is a great sacrifice to be deployed.

"When we heard Chris was leaving I said, 'Oh my gosh! We have got to help them.'"

It is one thing to say you support the military, but it is another to put those words into action.
"If she didn't create a culture to support our military we wouldn't have it," said Crystal.

Though GSA is a federal agency, Ruwwe said that doesn't change anything regarding their support of the military.

"We are still serving the federal government," said Ruwwe. "Everything we do is about serving other agencies. It's the culture of our organization."

While in Baghdad, Powers learned of a promotion back home. He interviewed for the position via a teleconference overseas. Not only did he receive the new position, but GSA held it for him until his return.

"When associates leave, work generally stops," said Powers. "However, my co-workers soaked up my job in my absence. They picked up the baton and ran with it. This award is a credit to my co-workers."

Kevin Rothmier, Powers' supervisor, recognizes the sacrifice of his employee. Rothmier is quick to direct the praise back to Powers.

"This award for us tonight is a tribute to Chris' military and civilian service," said Rothmier. "Our company promotes a culture where associates feel valued. We are very honored to receive this recognition for GSA, but it all goes back to Chris and his service."

The Pro Patria Award is the top honor given at the state level by the National ESGR Committee to the one employer in Missouri who has provided the most exceptional support of our national defense through leadership practices and personnel policies that support their employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve.

Edward Jones of St. Louis received the Pro Patria award for large corporations. Harter House Supermarket of Springfield took away the honor for small organizations.

Other awards presented include:

Missouri Outstanding Military Support
This is the highest award given at the state level by the Missouri ESGR Committee. It recognizes employers who ESGR selected as nominees for the Freedom Award, the top national award.

Da-Com-for small organizations-Washington
St. Clair High School-for public organizations-St. Clair
Commerce Bank-for large corporations-St. Joseph
139th Air Lift Wing (ANG)-St. Joseph

The Above and Beyond Award
The award is given to employers who have gone above and beyond the legal requirements for granting leave and providing support for military duty by their employees. It is given out to only one organization in each of the state's nine geographic areas, with the exception of the St. Louis and Kansas City areas in which two awards are given due to the higher populations.
Harris Corporation-St. Louis
Integricept Private Security-Jackson
Ferrell Duncan Clinic-Springfield
Shelter Insurance-Columbia
Federal Emergency Management Agency-Kansas City
Continental Fabrication Services-Carrollton
Parker Hannifin/Sporlan Division-Washington
GNC Corporation-Lake Ozark
Lake Regional Health System-Jefferson City
Sprint-Kansas City
Flightline Graphics-Cameron

Patriot Award
The Patriot Award honors individual supervisors and companies for their superior support to Guard and Reserve employees. Award nominations are made by National Guard and Reserve members or their families.

Christine Cover of Ameristar Casino-Kansas City
Robert Marks of Pepsi Beverage Co.-Kansas City
Dr. John Noren of Park University-Parkville
Dr. Timothy Westcott of Park University-Parkville
Honeywell FM&T accepted by Kent Klug-Kansas City
Stinson, Morrison, Hecker accepted by Allison Murdock-Kansas City

Seven Seals
This award is the only award that transcends both the employer awards and volunteer awards programs given by ESGR. This award is given for meritorious leadership and initiative in support of the men and women who serve America in the National Guard and Reserve. The Seven Seals Award is symbolic of the seven services that comprise the Reserve components.

Jon Lemon-Kansas City
Maj. Barb Denny-Maysville, 139th Airlift Wing, St. Joseph

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