By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ron Kuzlik, Navy Operational
Support Center Public Affairs Norfolk
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Hampton Roads area employers were presented awards during a ceremony at Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Norfolk aboard Joint Expeditionary Base (JEB) Little Creek-Fort Story Sept. 27.
The employers were recognized for their dedication and support of employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve components
Chief of Navy Reserve and commander, Navy Reserve Force Vice. Adm. Dirk J. Debbink presented his Chief of Navy Reserve (CNR) Employee Appreciation Award to STIHL Inc.; Sentara Healthcare; ECPI College of Technology; Norfolk Southern Corp; and former Virginia Beach Mayor Meyera Oberndorf.
The awards are presented to honor civilian employers who ensure Navy Reserve Sailors are fully ready.
Debbink joined Leon Hill, Employer Support for Guard and Reserves (ESGR) Reserve component liaison, in presenting ESGR Patriot Awards to Commonwealth Challenge; Sandy Bottom Materials, Inc.; ITA International, LLC; Honeywell, Inc., and Norfolk Southern Corp.
The Patriot Awards are an incentive program designed to recognize employers who support a strong National Guard and Reserve force. Employers qualify for recognition when they practice leadership and personnel policies that support employee participation in the Guard and Reserve.
"The work that we're doing in the military today is so important," Debbink said. "As National Guardsman and Reservists, we can't serve without the support of our families and our employers.
"Not only do they support us, but they do it in such incredible ways that it makes our job so much easier. That way, we can stay focused on what we're doing in the military and not have to worry about what's going on back home if we know that our employers are looking after and taking care of our families while we are gone," Debbink said.
As mayor of Virginia's largest municipality from 1988-2008, Oberndorf was instrumental in establishing a Statement of Support from all the Mayors in the Tidewater Area, including the cities of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Newport News, Suffolk, Williamsburg, Poquoson, Smithfield, Windsor and Franklin and county supervisors of York, Surry, James City, Gloucester and Southampton counties.
"The Reservist who has been called to active duty, and the families that are left behind need to know how much we appreciate what their parents and loved ones are doing," Oberndorf said. "It's a partnership between the civilian arm of our nation working to support and nurture military members and their families."
David Cobbs, Norfolk Southern Corp., praised his employees who serve in the armed forces.
"We have employees that are members of all branches of the military and they certainly consider them an integral part of the
Southern team," said Cobbs. Norfolk
ESGR is a part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. Its mission is to develop and promote employer support for Guard and Reserve service by advocating relevant initiatives, recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of applicable laws, and resolving conflict between employers and service members.