State of Hawaii honored for employment of Guard, Reserve

| October 7, 2010 | 0 Comments

Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

Robert Hale (left), under secretary of defense and chief financial officer, and Dennis McCarthy (right), assistant secretary of defense for Reserve Affairs, present the 2010 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award to Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, on behalf of the Hawaii state government. The Freedom Award, presented Sept. 23, in Washington, is the highest recognition given by the U.S. government to employers, for their outstanding support of employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve. (Courtesy of American Forces Press Service)WASHINGTON — Fifteen U.S. companies, nominated by their employees, recently received Defense Department awards for outstanding support to the National Guardsmen and reservists they employ.

Recipients of the 2010 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, ranged from small companies to the state of Hawaii. 

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a defense agency, presents the annual award.

Dennis McCarthy, assistant secretary of defense for Reserve Affairs, was the keynote speaker for the event. He said civilian employers of the nation’s nearly 1.7 million citizen-service members, roughly half the U.S.’ military strength, play a key role in the country’s defense.

“One thing that we need to constantly keep in mind is that the great young men and women — if you will, the greatest generation we have today — cannot do what they do, in service of the National Guard and Reserves, without the support of their employers,” he said. “The employers that we recognize today are really the linchpins of our success.

“Well, you are doing the right thing, … (but) you’re doing it at a higher level, and that’s why we’ve singled you out for this very singular honor,” he said.

Maj. Mark Takai, a medical service officer assigned to the Hawaii Army National Guard’s joint services support division, as the equal opportunity employment and school liaison officer, attended the ceremony and said his state provides outstanding support to deployed troops and their families.

Takai was base support operations officer at Camp Patriot, Kuwait, during the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, HIANG, deployment to Kuwait and Iraq in August 2008. He nominated the state for the award following the deployment, and said the award is the result of the state’s team effort.

“Whenever anybody deploys from the armed services in Hawaii, it’s a big deal for us,” he said. “We’re all one family. So, as people move forward to the front lines, there are many people at home taking care of our families and our loved ones. Our state does us very well.”

For citizen-service members, Takai said, deployment is particularly challenging because it represents not only leaving family, but also taking on a whole new identity.

“This is a very important night for us,” he said. “It’s employers, like the state of Hawaii, that make it possible for people like me to come back from deployment and get right back into our routines. 

“When active duty members come home, they go right back into their active duty units,” he added. “We don’t. We see our family, friends and employers. It’s our employers that are critical, especially right when we get back home.”

Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle accepted the award on behalf of the state.

Category: Army News Service, News

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