Federal State Audit Staff Twice Honored for Supporting Military Staff
By Suzanne Hensell, OPACE
Linwood Pender, program auditor with the Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit, Federal State Audit Staff (FSAS) in Omaha, Nebraska, served in the U.S. Army for 32 years, both active duty and as a reservist. While deployed in 2017, Pender nominated his supervisor, former Branch Chief Ron Eckel, for an award recognizing the moral support Eckel provided Pender regarding his duties as a military reservist. The Patriot Award, given through the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) program, recognizes supervisors for support — including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families and granting leaves of absence — provided directly to the nominating guardsman or reservist.
Established in 1972, ESGR is a Department of Defense program that develops and promotes supportive work environments for Guard and Reserve service members through outreach, recognition and educational opportunities. In the nomination Pender wrote, “It is wonderful to work for someone who is truly passionate about his job and about each employee being successful in their position. In my particular case, this did not just cover my position as a program auditor under his supervision; Ron was equally interested in my success during my military deployment.”
On April 4, 2019, during a ceremony at the FSAS Omaha office, Dr. Jonathan Coleman, current FSAS branch chief, accepted the Patriot Award on behalf of his predecessor, Eckel. In honor of the occasion, ESGR offered Dr. Coleman the opportunity to experience the ESGR Bosslift program, which allows public and private employers to see citizen service members on the job when they are away from their civilian occupations. Dr. Coleman was not able to take advantage of the opportunity, so Auditor Shao Chong Zhang was selected for the Bosslift, which the ESGR bills as the “ride of a lifetime.” Bosslifts take place throughout the U.S. and can be a mock convoy operation, a video-simulated firefight, a flight to a briefing or a mid-air refueling mission, among other adventures. This particular Bosslift flight, on a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, afforded Zhang an aerial view of Omaha and the surrounding areas.
ESGR later selected FSIS to receive the Seven Seals Award, the broadest and most inclusive award given by ESGR. On April 2, 2021, Dr. Coleman accepted the Department of Defense Seven Seals Award presented by Ron Boro, a volunteer representing the Nebraska ESGR. Dr. Coleman was presented the award in recognition of the Agency’s outstanding support to its military members.
“The Seven Seals award was created by ESGR to publicly recognize organizations or individuals who provide outstanding support and cooperation to the military members in the area, who, like the citizen warriors before them, have answered their nation’s call to serve,” said Boro in his presentation. “Supportive businesses are critical to maintaining the strength and readiness of the nation’s Guard and Reserve units, and it’s a pleasure for me to recognize USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service with this award.”