By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer
For the fifth-straight year, Clovis is providing an opportunity that National Guard and Reserve members don’t get in their everyday service — the chance to say thanks.
This weekend’s Guard/Reserve Awards and Recognition Banquet is expected to draw about 150 to Clovis on Friday and Saturday. Attendance includes National Guard and Reserve members from across the state and employers those members nominated for being flexible bosses.
“I think the biggest thing for an employer is someone took time to tell them thanks,” said Gary Kaiser, a state program support specialist for Employer Support for Guard and Reserves New Mexico. “We tend to sometimes forget the sacrifices employers make, who continue to have to run a business without some of their key employees. They’ve got to pick up some of the slack.”
Many of those who attend, Area ESGR Chairman John Montano said, will leave from Albuquerque in a C-130. While in the air and en route to Cannon Air Force Base, the plane will receive an aerial refueling.
It’s one of several demonstrations taking place Friday and Saturday, mostly at the Melrose Bombing Range.
“What we’re trying to do is show New Mexico employers what their employees do … anywhere they’re activated to,” Montano said. “We’re not the weekend warriors now. The Guard and Reserves make up over 50 percent of the fighting forces (in Iraq and Afghanistan).”
The demonstrations are by National Guard and Reserve organizations across the state. Kaiser said Cannon Air Force Base provides locations for the event, but otherwise has little involvement.
At the Friday night ceremony at the Clovis Civic Center, employers are given different levels of awards for how they adhere to Uniform Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act standards.
Considerations for awards include worktime recognition of service, continuing company benefits during active duty and keeping in touch with the employee’s family when service of longer than 30 days is required.
During the awards assembly, Kaiser said there are plans to honor local committee members and Plains Regional Medical Center, which is nominated for the Freedom Award — an honor given to only 15 companies annually for outstanding support of their National Guard and Reserve employees and their families.