OTTUMWA — Members of the military who have gone above and beyond the call of duty may have their devotion recognized by their commanders. But it's the soldiers themselves who recognize the extra efforts of a boss who makes sure a citizen soldier can serve.
On Monday, retired Iowa National Guard warrant officer Don Lane presented Terry Christy with the Patriot Award.
"This award recognizes deserving employers whose support and good will are critically important," Lane told Christy, a supervisor employed by WINBCO Tank Co. in Ottumwa.
Lane, from Sigourney, represents the Iowa and national committees for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, an office of the U.S. Department of Defense.
In order for a company to be considered, "the soldier has to initiate the award," Lane said.
"Being prior service himself, and a big supporter of the Wounded Warrior Project ... you see the kind of person he is," said SFC Todd Sackman, a member of the Iowa National Guard 832nd Co.
They hired him knowing he was a combat vet: Sackman required multiple doctor visits for injuries he'd sustained.
"WINBCO supported me, took on that additional burden," Sackman said.
These are for supervisors who have been more supportive than just following federal law. They may have had to juggle schedules around so the troop can attend drill, do "something above and beyond what they are required to do."
Sackman received a lot of support from his mother. In fact, he said, he can't imagine how hard it is to send a child off to war. His mom, he said, has seen three sons go off to war, including Todd and a brother simultaneously in the Middle East. He feels support from home and at work.
"WINBCO treats me like family," he said.
That's what Lane hears most about the companies that receive the Patriot Award.
"Often, it's when an employee feels part of the organization; they want to excel and the employer supports that," he said.
The business also was presented with their "Statement of Support" plaque Monday. Organizations can apply if they are willing to pledge their support.
When asked why he was willing to go the extra mile for his citizen soldiers, Christy, himself a U.S. Navy veteran, said the answer is pretty simple.
"The military, I don't care what branch, those service members, they've given everything. So what little we can give them ... they have my respect."
— To follow reporter Mark Newman on Twitter, see @CourierMark