Job well done

Crossett recognized for accommodating employees serving in US Army Reserve

“I put in a lot of applications, but I didn’t get a lot of calls,” said Captain Kris Gustafson of the United States Army Reserves.

Originally from Gerry, NY, Gustafson said that after returning to the area as a reservist, he struggled to find employment given his obligation to be away from work for training.

It’s a familiar struggle for service members, said Fred Fair and Debbie Golden of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Department (ESGR), a part of the Department of Defense.

Many employers, said Fair, struggle to make up for the absences of service members. When a reservist is gone for one weekend each month and two weeks each year, at a minimum, those are days that the employer has to find someone else to fill in. It’s time when fellow employees have to “pick up the slack.” And many times it can mean an additional cost to employers.

The ESGR accepts nominations from service members who want to recognize employers who go “above and beyond” to accommodate members of the military. Reservists, said Golden, make up 50 percent of the military, and the military depends on reservists to function well.

But reservists depend on their families and their employers to enable them to serve. Being able to thank an employer who does just that, and whose employee has recognized their willingness to accommodate their needs as a reservist, is an exciting thing, Golden said.

Thursday afternoon, Golden and Fair were in Warren to do just that. Gustafson said that eventually, Crossett was one of the few places he’d applied for work that did call him back, and they hired him too.

Crossett’s owner and CEO Alex Keddie has “been fully supportive to not only my participation in the United States Army Reserves, but also my soldier’s, Sgt. Robert Horton,” Gustafson wrote in his nomination narrative. “Crossett is more than willing to accommodate both of our absences. In my case, Crossett pays another employer overtime to cover my shift. Sergeant Horton’s lost shift means lost revenue for the company. Recently, Sgt. Horton was mobilized to support the ‘Increase the Army End Strength’ mission at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Despite losing a valuable asset in Sgt. Horton for a full calendar, year, the company was understanding and supportive. Many companies are unwilling to hire new employees who are in the military, but Crossett is the exception. I am thankful every day to have such a great employer to work for. Crossett is very deserving of this award.”

The ESGR field team who received the nomination agreed, and sent Golden and Fair to present Gustafson’s supervisor and fellow employees with the Patriot Award, which recognizes the efforts and accommodations Crossett had made in their hiring and keeping employees who serve in the military.

Crossett’s Jack Martin accepted the award for Keddie, who was unable to be there Thursday.

“We thank Kris for his service and we thank Debbie and Fred for being here,” said Jack. His message to Kris was short and to the point: “we appreciate everything you do for the country.”