Department of Defense Announces Award for Supportive Employers of Guard and Reserve Members’ Spouses
Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) announced an expansion of the Patriot Award Program to include employers of Guard and Reserve members’ spouses. The Patriot Award was previously presented only to employers of Guard and Reserve members. After learning of the growing number of employers adopting supportive initiatives for military spouses, ESGR embraced the opportunity to recognize these employers with their own Department of Defense award.
The employer of a military spouse has no legal obligation to provide unique support, but Guard and Reserve spouses often share the challenges of military service. Childcare, managing the household, and work schedules often have to be adjusted when one spouse leaves to serve our country. Military spouses value the cooperation and encouragement of their employers just as much as those in the Guard and Reserve. The expansion of the Patriot Award honors these patriotic employers and is the only Department of Defense award designated for spouses’ employers.
The nation has relied heavily on Guard and Reserve service members since entering continuous operations nearly 10 years ago. These service members have deployed and fought side-by-side active duty members, each time leaving a spouse behind to do the work of two. Unlike their counterparts on active duty, Guard and Reserve spouses’ may not live near the supportive network of large military bases. In many cases, an employer is a Guard and Reserve spouse’s strongest support community.
Guard and Reserve spouses are already coming forward to share how their employers have gone above and beyond in their support. For one spouse, her supervisor shifted her nursing schedule when her husband deployed to allow the mother of three to continue working, but also to be at home for their children during the school year. When babysitter options became too difficult to coordinate, she was granted a leave of absence with no questions asked.
Robyn Gellerup, a Wisconsin mother of three, works as an office manager for a construction company showroom. “While my husband was deployed both times, Rod and Becky Cook have taken care of us like we are part of their family from mowing our lawn, plowing snow from our driveway, to performing maintenance on our vehicles and home. It gave my husband peace of mind knowing that if something goes wrong I could just pick up the phone and they’d be there,” praised Robyn.
All spouses of Guard and Reserve members are eligible to nominate their employers. Spouses can log on to www.esgr.org/PA to fill out the Spouse Nomination Form. Each nominated supervisor will receive a Department of Defense Certificate of Appreciation, presented by the spouse employee or the local volunteer from the ESGR State Committee.