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ESGR in the News


BUFFALO, Minn. – Minnesota Army National Guard Sgt. Rayan Wilson presented the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Patriot Award to his employment supervisor, Buffalo Minnesota Fire Department Chief John Harnois. The award was given recently at the main Buffalo fire station in recognition of Chief Harnois's support of his employee's service to the Minnesota National Guard.

Wilson was very appreciative of Chief Harnois's support and assistance with his military service and Guard deployments and wanted to honor Chief Harnois. Wilson stated regarding Chief Harnois: "I am incredibly fortunate to have a Chief who understands the sacrifices I make as an active-duty military member and provides unwavering support. He accommodates extra training days on my military days off and has allowed me to attend trainings outside the Buffalo Fire Department so that I can stay current. I couldn't ask for a more supportive Chief who recognizes the importance of my active-duty military role and provides that kind of flexible arrangements that allow me to fulfill my military duties without compromising my professional responsibilities. I'm inspired by a Chief who sees my military service as an asset and consistently encourages my growth and development, both as a servicemember and as a firefighter.”

The presentation occurred in front of the entire fire department staff. Some of the firemen who are Soldiers or a veteran proudly stood in the award photo below with Chief Harnois.

An employee serving in the National Guard or Military Reserve, or the spouse of a National Guard or Military Reserve member, may nominate individual supervisors for the Patriot Award for support provided directly to the nominating Servicemember and his or her family. The Patriot Award reflects the efforts made to support citizen warriors through a wide-range of measures including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence if needed.
In addition to receiving a Patriot Award, Chief Harnois signed an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Statement of Support, confirming that the Buffalo Fire Department joins other employers in pledging:
We fully recognize, honor, and comply with the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act (USERRA).
We will provide our managers and supervisors with the tools they need to effectively manage employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve.
We appreciate the values, leadership and unique skills service members bring to the workforce and will encourage opportunities to hire Guardsmen, Reservists and Veterans.
We will continually recognize and support our country's service members and their families, in peace, in crises and in war.

Also present was Robert Adams, an ESGR Ombudsman/Minnesota Committee member. ESGR is a Department of Defense office that develops and promotes supportive work environments for service members in the National Guard and Reserve through outreach, recognition, and educational opportunities that increase awareness of applicable laws. ESGR also provides assistance in resolving conflicts between Service members and their employers. This year, ESGR celebrates over 50 years of excellence in support of the Reserve Components and their civilian employers. For more information about ESGR outreach programs or volunteer opportunities, call (800) 336-4590 or visit

Award Photo, left to right: Sgt. Jared Sands, Nick Janey Marine Veteran, Sgt. Ryan Wilson, Chief John Harnois, 1st Lt. Mark Schmit and Robert Adams ESGR.

Statement of Support Photo, left to right: Sgt. Ryan Wilson and Chief John Harnois.
(Photos courtesy of Fireman Mark Lauer)

Posted in: Minnesota
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