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Minnesota National Guard
A big day for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve

Minnesota National Guard Every morning 83 year-old Richard Giroux of Mankato, Minn starts his day by hanging his American flag  His patriotism could have been instilled in him during his Korean War tour with the Army, or during his service in the Minnesota National Guard as a Soldier and full time technician Either way, 38 years, four months and seven days of military service made him a proud American, concerned for the welfare of Service members  

This week Giroux sat among dozens of veterans as dedicated as himself at the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) annual training and Annual Employer Support Awards Banquet in Bloomington, Minn May 20

“Thanks for what you do,” said Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Richard C Nash as he spoke to more than 30 ESGR volunteers during their day-long annual training “It’s extremely important”

As an ESGR unit liaison in Mankato, Giroux volunteers his time promoting a culture in which employers support and value the military service of their employees “I get satisfaction from trying to help somebody,” said Giroux about his volunteerism More than 120 volunteers, just like Giroux are scattered across Minnesota Program Support Technician Jim Mitchell says they could even use more volunteers “Each unit should have a liaison, but we have some gaps,” said Mitchell “We’d like to have employer outreach volunteers too, but we don’t have enough volunteers for that yet”

One of the important jobs volunteers have is facilitating in the presentation of awards to employers for their support Last year more than 220 individual supervisors and bosses were presented with Patriot Awards in all four corners of the state

 In some instances entire companies are doing profound work for their employees in the reserve components  For top awards like the Above and Beyond Award, the Seven Seals Award and the Pro Patria Award the Annual Employer Support Awards Banquet is the venue for presentation This week more than 300 employers, military members and ESGR volunteers gathered to honor 29 companies Minnesota wide, which exemplify military support

Receiving top honors with the Pro Patria Award are ASAS/ Tysol Inc, US Bank and the City of Rochester

Senior Master Sgt Darrin Ewing nominated his small business employer ASAS/Tysol Inc in Woodbury for the Pro Patria Award  “Not only did my employer provide the much appreciated service member support while my unit was overseas, but they remained in constant contact with my wife and other family members,” said Ewing

Ewing has deployed multiple times over the last 20 years while working at ASAS/Tysol and serving in the Minnesota Air National Guard  Through each deployment he continued to receive full pay and benefits and was shown random acts of kinds by his employer  Additionally this company, with just four employees, is an active member of Woodbury’s Yellow Ribbon Network

Air Force Reserve Col Michael Ott nominated his employer US Bank who won the Pro Patria Award in the large business category  “I am proud to serve and I enjoy inordinate support, advocacy and care from US Bank It is only through that support that I am able to continue to serve my country,” said Ott
US Bank has a military leave program policy that exceeds state and federal standards The company also has a formal military support program called Proud to Serve, an ongoing recruiting program aimed at Service members and veterans, and they have been proclaimed a Yellow Ribbon Company

The city of Rochester earned the final Pro Patria Award in the public sector category, nominated by Minnesota National Guard Col Eric Kerska  “Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede is an outspoken advocate for support of the Guard and Reserve,” said Kerska “He continuously voices his support as well as encourages employers everywhere to support the troops”

As a Yellow Ribbon City, Rochester continues to find unique ways to support military families and Service members deployed  Last year the city supported an effort with the Chamber of Commerce and ESGR to conduct a job fair and help decrease the veteran unemployment rate

After a full day with his ESGR comrades that included being recognized for his 15 years as a volunteer and watching the fruits of relationships he’s worked recognized on the stage, Giroux headed back to Mankato He had an important ritual that needed his attention in the morning

May 20, 2013
2nd Lt Melanie Nelson
Minnesota ational Guard Public Affairs

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