Supervisor awarded for supporting National Guard employee

| June 16, 2017 | 0 Comments
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — Lawrence K. Baptista, chief information officer for U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, receives the Patriot Award during a brief ceremony on May 31. (U.S. Army photo by Kristen Wong, Oahu Publications)

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — Lawrence K. Baptista, chief information officer for U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, receives the Patriot Award during a brief ceremony on May 31. (U.S. Army photo by Kristen Wong, Oahu Publications)

Karen A. Iwamoto
Staff Writer

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — The nation’s National Guard members must balance two worlds. They need to be ready to defend their country, which requires training and deployments away from home, while also holding down civilian jobs to support themselves and their families.

They wouldn’t be able to do this without the understanding and encouragement of their employers.

“Since the Vietnam War, we have had a volunteer force rather than a draft,” said Bridget Komine, training director for the Hawaii chapter of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) program. “(When) civilian employees step up to be part of the nation’s defense in the National Guard and Reserve components, they are leaving behind their civilian jobs and their families. They can’t perform effectively if they don’t have a good support foundation from both.”

On May 31, Komine, on behalf of the ESGR, presented Lawrence K. Baptista, the chief information technology officer for U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, with the ESGR Patriot Employer Award for the support he provided to Staff Sgt. Daniel Chang of the Hawaii Air National Guard.

Chang, who provides IT support to USAG-HI, said he nominated Baptista because he “openly supports me when (I’m) tasked for active duty and deployments. (He) also coordinated to have a replacement hired while (I was) serving for extended periods of time. He provides the greatest support and guidance even though I work outside of his main office, providing out-island support to the Big Island.”

Komine said National Guard members like Chang shouldn’t have to worry about their jobs while they are supporting the constitution of the United States and defending the freedom of its citizens.

Baptista accepted the award humbly. He said he was honored to have received it and for being recognized as an outstanding supervisor, but added that he views what he did for Chang as just part of his job.

“I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do, what any employer or supervisor should do,” he said.

The ESGR was established by the Department of Defense in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between reserve component service members and their civilian employers to assist in resolving conflicts from the employees’ military commitment.

It has more than 4,700 volunteers and support staff in all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia, who work to inform Reserve service members and their civilian employees about their rights and responsibilities under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).

They provide trained ombudsmen to inform and mediate any issues or conflicts concerning the USERRA, and they recognize supportive supervisors and employers.

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