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Illinois ESGR Awards Banquet Honors Employers Who Support Their National Guard, Reserve Employees

Brig. Gen. Dan McDonough, the Assistant Adjutant General - Air of the Illinois National Guard and Commander of the Illinois Air National Guard, was the keynote speaker for the Illinois Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Awards Banquet, May 17, at the Marriott in Normal, Illinois. 

The banquet honored employers throughout the state who have helped their National Guard and Reserve employees serve and defend their communities and nation. By supporting their service members, these employers are also defending our nation, McDonough said. Illinois ESGR State Chair Laurie Silvey presented the Pro Patria Award to Jennifer Brumbick of

East St. Louis School District 189 - James Avant Elementary School. The Pro Patria Award is one of the highest-level Illinois ESGR awards. The school was nominated by one of its teachers, Army Reserve Lt. Col. Nina McLean, who received a tremendous amount of support from the school and its leadership during a recent deployment. 

Also honored this year with the Pro Patria Awards were JD Brown Pharmacy and Discover Financial Services. 

Silvey presented ESGR Above and Beyond Awards to: 

  • City of Genoa City Water Light and Power for its support of U.S. Coast Guard Reserve Commander Dan Godiksen's military service. Godiksen accepted the award on his employer's behalf. In the award nomination packet, Godiksen said "I have had the greatest level of support that an employee could ask for. My pay and benefits never missed a beat. When you have family at home, especially young children, you are always worried about their well-being. I never had that worry. My supervisor reached out to the other departments to make sure they were up to speed and my family was amazed to never have any worries about benefits. When I returned, I was afforded as much time as necessary to familiarize myself with new systems and procedures. I can't thank them enough for the extra effort they showed me when I was the one to leave them." 

  • Elizabeth Cruz of Accertify, an American Express Company, for its support of Army 1st Lt. James Williams' military career. While Williams was away for four months at a leadership course, Cruz had the challenge of working with a smaller staff while he was away. "While away, she respected my time on orders and it was as if I never left when I returned. While away I received my normal compensation for the entire time away. Accertify is truly a Patriotic company." 

  • Tazewell County Sheriff Jeffrey Lower for his office's support of Illinois Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Copeland's military career. Copeland said the Tazewell County Sheriff's Office checked on him regularly during a deployment to the Middle East and a co-worker even mowed his lawn while he was deployed so his spouse wouldn't have to. 

  • Pete Arechevala of John Crane for its support of Illinois Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Brandon Cabrera Rojas' military career. Staff Sgt. Cabrera Rojas said the provider of engineered technology consistently checked in on his well-being when he was deployed in 2020. "They have always been outstanding at supporting my military career," Cabrera Rojas said. "They, like my family at home, are part of my Army family." 

  • Mark Reddy of Olivet Nazarene University for its support of Army Reserve Maj. Landon Miller's military career. "I was actively hired because I was in the military," Miller said. "The university created the Director of Military and Veterans Affairs position for me so they could better support the military who are on campus. Other employees within my department have provided support to my family when I am away for military training. There has been assistance with childcare or providing my family with meals when I am away for extended periods." Also honored with Above and Beyond Awards this year were Burns & McDonnell, ENTRUST, Heritage Life Insurance Co., Joliet Fire Department, Menards, Quality Network Solutions, and Rolling Meadows Library. 

Silvey presented the ESGR Seven Seals Award to Bob Nachman of Pearl Technologies to honor a wide array of support for service members from all seven reserve components. It is the only Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve award that bridges both the employer and volunteer recognition programs. 

Also receiving Seven Seals Awards this year were Auffenberg Dealer Group, Brieser Construction, Horizon Therapeutics, Illinois State Police BAO Section, Microsoft, and Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System. 

ESGR, a Department of Defense program, was established in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component service members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee's military commitment. ESGR is supported by a network of more than 3,750 volunteers in 54 committees across all 50 states and four U.S. territories. 

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