Those who volunteer to serve in our Guard and Reserve forces sacrifice much to secure our freedoms. Having the security of knowing they have a job to return home to makes serving their country a bit easier.
That’s why Middle Tennessee State University was recognized recently as a “Patriotic Employer” for supporting its employees who may face deployment at a moment’s notice.
John Dedman, a Middle Tennessee committee member with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve agency, presented MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee with a certificate recognizing the university’s strong support of its employees who serve in the military.
ESGR is a U.S. Department of Defense agency established 30 years ago “to promote cooperation and understanding” between Guard and Reserve members and their employers when those members are deployed.
ESGR boasts a network of more than 4,800 volunteers in 54 committees located across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Dedman said the volunteer committees recognize supportive employers “to develop the good will that needs to be there, especially when times get a little strained and (employees) are away for some time. They need to be recognized for that.”
Dr. Tony Johnston, a professor in the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience, nominated the university for the honor in appreciation for its support of him during his deployment in the Reserves.
Johnston was deployed for two years following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He was activated again in 2005 for four months and missed the fall semester that year. The university made sure that his job was secure both times.
“I was so impressed that the university took care of me,” Johnston said. “I never was concerned about coming back to my job. It was very peaceful, and the transition was so easy.”
McPhee credited the entire university community with creating an atmosphere where such support for deployed employees is possible.
“It’s an honor to receive this recognition, but we’ve never hesitated in making sure we support those employees who serve our country,” he said. “It’s the employees that make this university great.”
Johnston, who said he had a bad experience with a previous employer regarding his military service, pointed out that only a very small percentage of the population volunteers to serve in the military.
“It’s very important that employers support their employees who do this,” he said. “It’s vital that people be able to go do what we need as a country and come back and have employment. We all have families, we all have responsibilities … it’s not easy. This is a dangerous thing.
“I really hope everyone realizes that whether you’re a small employer or a large employer, the responsibility is shared amongst all of us.”
— Jimmy Hart (Jimmy.Hart@mtsu.edu)