Hats off to the West Fargo Police Department who was presented with a prestigious Pro Patria award for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) in a special ceremony held July 15, at the Fargo Air Museum. The department was recognized among three North Dakota employers as semifinalists for the 2009 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, nominated in the public sector employer category.
West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern and West Fargo Police Chief Arland Rasmussen were in attendance to accept the award from Greg Wilz, chairman of the ESGR for North Dakota and Director of N.D. Department of Emergency Services. Guest speaker was Major General Al Dohrman, Deputy Adjutant General for N.D.
The award is the U.S. Government's highest recognition given to employers for exceptional support of their employees serving in the Guard and Reserve; and is significant because only members of the National Guard or Reserve or their family members are eligible to nominate their employer for the award.
North Dakota Air National Guard Chief Michael Reitan, also the assistant police chief in West Fargo, made the nomination, stating that both Mattern and Rasmussen have been extremely supportive of military families and members during deployment periods. The nomination included an application process that had to be completed describing different processes supporting the military members as well as providing examples of that support.
Reitan has words of praise for the department and their willingness to go the extra mile. "They are very flexible in responding to no-notice or short-notice military tour of duty assignments. They ensure continuation of benefits and pay during the period of deployment and Chief Rasmussen routinely calls family members of military personnel to check status and offer assistance. That's part of what this whole program is all about, so these contributions are extremely important."
Reitan said the support included assistance from City of West Fargo Finance Director Sharon Schacher who was responsible for making sure the benefits and entitlements were properly managed. "Sharon really took care of the benefits and entitlements while Arland took care of the personal touch. Both did an outstanding job."
The department was also the recipient of another distinction earlier, the "Above and Beyond" award, presented during Assistant Secretary of Defense Thomas Hall's visit to Fargo in 2008.
This most recent accolade is indeed quite an honor since the West Fargo department was among 131 semi-finalists from across the nation, including the Bismarck Floor to Ceiling Store and Microsoft Fargo, selected from more than 3,200 nominations submitted.
A national review board is working on selecting 35 finalists for the award. A national selection board comprised of senior defense officials and business leaders will then select the award's 15 recipients later this summer, with the grand awards presented at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on September 17, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Center.
With everyone pulling for you as we await the outcome of national results, congratulations go out to the entire West Fargo Police Department staff on a job well-done.