A patriotic pat on the back
"It seemed like what we ought to be doing," said Dave Rush, Douglas County Land and Resource Management director.
Rush was honored for his role in supporting a National Guard member, Sergeant Shane Karlberg, who worked for him this past summer as a watercraft inspector.
He was presented with a plaque and a pin from the Office of the Secretary of Defense Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) committee in Alexandria at Tuesday's county commissioners' meeting.
It was at Karlberg's nomination that Rush was selected for the honor. Rush made accommodations to be sure Karlberg was able to participate in his Guard training.
"I very much appreciate this, but, in my humble opinion, I didn't do anything extraordinary that any other department head or employer should be doing," Rush said. He added that Karlberg's training made him a fantastic employee for the county.
More than 1.1 million soldiers are in America's Army today, said Major General Paul G. Rehkamp, and half of them are in the Guard and Reserves. When Rehkamp served, mobilization took approximately six months before a Guardsman was shipped overseas. Today, deployment happens much faster.
"The involvement of a Reservist or a Guardsmen is far, far greater now than it was when I spent most of my time in the Army Reserve," Rehkamp said.
Rehkamp said the Patriot Award is given when an employer goes above and beyond to support a Guardsman's or Reservist's contribution to national defense. The ESGR is available to facilitate between the two parties and recognize outstanding employers.
"The strain on families, on the soldiers, and on the relationships between employers and the soldier are far greater," Rehkamp said.
Retired ESGR member Don Nolting noted that newly-elected commissioner Charlie Meyer also employs members of the Guard and Reserves.
Crystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.