HORSHAM AIR GUARD STATION, Pa. --
An auburn glow illuminating the room flickered sparks of light off of polished buttons and meticulously-placed medals. The melodic clatter of dinner mingled with jovial chatter, pervading the venue's formality. Warm ambiance mirrored the amiable exchange between military employees and their local civilian employers.
The Pennsylvania Committee for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve held a gala extolling employers of Guardsmen and reservists in Horsham, Pennsylvania, June 14.
Established in 1972, ESGR is a Department of Defense program created to advance cooperation and understanding between reserve service members and their civilian employers. It plays a critical role in resolving conflicts due to an employee's military commitment.
While often recognized as the organization that mitigates workplace disputes, ESGR also serves as a military ambassador--strengthening civilian workplace relationships. With its awards programs, it fosters the bonds between military members and their civilian employers.
"ESGR runs a program that allows an employee to turn around and recognize their employer with an award," said Theresa Arentzen, the ESGR program support technician here. She continued by saying the program is distinct in that it shifts customary incentive programs, allowing supervisors to realize the significance of their support for military employees.
During this year's special observance, attendees from the commonwealth were treated to a night featuring retired Maj. Gen. Wesley Craig, Jr., formerly The Adjutant General--Pennsylvania, as the guest speaker. During his dialogue, he affirmed the vast importance supportive employers play in accomplishing the military mission.
An active member in ESGR, Craig stated that Guardsmen and reservists are integral in the tapestry of defense. "This force that your employees are a part of is extremely valuable for the nation, extremely cost effective for defense...And we need the support of the employers, which is the reason you are all here."
He continued by noting why the employers being awarded were considered to stand out from their peers.
''There are laws that dictate what an employer must do to support their members in the Guard and reserve, but you've done much more than that--you've gone beyond the letter of the law ," said Craig in his address the employers in attendance. "You've gone beyond the letter of the law and embraced the spirit of the law. And for that, we thank you. We thank you very, very much."
While a myriad of awards were presented, the actions of few employers distinguished themselves above an already impressive field of patriots. These notable awards include: the Seven Seals Award, the ESGR Eagle Head and the SecDef Employer Support Freedom Award.
"I certainly appreciate the recognition from Major DeLia; it's an honor to receive the award," said Perkasie Borough Police Department Chief of Police Steven Hillia. "We feel as police that we are in tandem with the defense mission that our armed forces are doing, especially the Pennsylvania National Guard. So it's kind of natural to work together."
For ESGR, the hope is that the awards will serve as acknowledgement for superior support of military members. But the organization also hopes it will inspire businesses to recognize the distinctive and remarkable attributes veterans bring to the civilian workforce.
"If you really sit back and watch, it's breathtaking," Arentzen said. "We're bridging gaps that other companies are losing out on. You have such potential to take your company and make it so much better by hiring military employees. They bring so much more to the table than the average employee."
To nominate an employer for recognition of superior military support, go to http://www.esgr.mil/Service-Members-Family/Nominate-your-Employer.aspx