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ESGR in the News


CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. – The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Above and Beyond Award was presented to the Indian Health Service, Cass Lake, by Minnesota ESGR State Committee Chair Chad Sackett April 26 at the Annual ESGR Planning Awards Meeting at Camp Ripley in recognition of this employer's outstanding support of its military employees’ service to the Minnesota National Guard and Reserves.

Receiving the award on behalf of the Indian Health Service, Cass Lake, was Laboratory Supervisor Ashley Nesset. Also assisting at the award ceremony was Lt. Col. Steve Hall, Deputy Commander Camp Ripley Military Facility.

This award is given in limited numbers by State Committees to employers who have had at least one of their supervisors/managers recognized with a Patriot Award and who have signed an ESGR Statement of Support. This award will be given to only 30 businesses this year, from hundreds of Patriot Award nominations received in Minnesota, that have honored their employees’ service in the United States military by providing assistance or benefits that go beyond the minimum required by the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act (USERRA).

Minnesota National Guard’s citizen Soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Frank Olson, nominated his employer, Indian Health Service of Cass Lake. Thomas was unable to attend.

Thomas had this to say about his employer: “Since joining the Cass Lake Indian Health Service Hospital as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist in 2014, I have undergone training to complete two MOS's. In 2017 I began training to become a 68W Medic, and in 2019 I began training to become a 42R Musician. I have attended all Annual Trainings, and I have volunteered for multiple missions outside of the drill period throughout the years, with ease and support from my employer. In February of 2020 I accepted an AGR assignment as the 92Y Supply NCO for the 34th Infantry Division Band out of Rosemount, and I successfully completed the assignment in February of 2023. During that timeframe I was in constant communication with my supervisor, Ashley, and she not only supported my efforts with the Guard but fought for pay increases and hired more staff in my absence to keep the laboratory operating smoothly. Upon my return to the hospital Ashley kept in close contact with HR to make sure I was awarded GS-11 status like the other employees, and she was flexible and accommodating to my schedule and re-training upon returning.”

Thomas went on to say, “It was a rough three-years for healthcare while I was away, but she maintains a positive, enduring, and professional demeanor. I am proud to serve in the Minnesota Army National Guard and I am proud to continue my work with Ashley in the hospital laboratory in Cass Lake, MN. Most recently, this March, I took time to sponsor one of our Soldiers in the 2023 Best Warrior Competition, which was more time away from the lab.”

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 51 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

Photo left to right: Lt. Col. Steve Hall, Ashley Nesset, and Chad Sackett ESGR.
(Photo courtesy of Larry Helsene ESGR)

Posted in: Minnesota
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