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ESGR in the News


RICHLAND, Wash. – The COVID-19 pandemic saw National Guards unit mobilized all across the United States to support state and local officials dealing with pandemic. In mobilizing the National Guard, many citizen soldiers had to leave their civilian employers with little or no notice. Washington State while in the midst of battling the pandemic was no different, and Washington National Guard was dispatched around the state and into local communities to help.

One Washington Army Nationl Guardsman who was called to help during the pandemic was Lt. Col. Dana Epperson of the 144th Digital Liason Detachment. Epperson was called away from his job as a special agent for the Department of Energy Office of the Inspector General. Epperson found himself in a much different role then when normally called to serve. In the pandemic he found himself helping to coordinate the vaccination efforts completed by the Washington National Guard in the early days of the pandemic as well as overseeing the distribution of food to those who could not work.

Citizen soldiers, such as Epperson who were called during their Nation’s time of need, can step away from their civilian work and be mission focused when they know their civilian employer is supportive of their service and otherwise adhere to the employment law that protects service members which is called the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, which is otherwise referred to as USERRA.

Epperson, in recognizing such a supportive employer, nominated Karrissa Otero, assistant special agent in-charge with the U.S. Department of Energy Office of the Inspector General, for the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve Patriot Award. “Ms. Otero has been a steadfast supporter of my service in the Washington Army National Guard,” said Epperson.  “During each period of service, she has ensured that my rights as a federal employee were protected and fully supported.”  The Patriot Award was presented to Otero by Judy West, east area chair for the Washington Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Committee.

“The Patriot Award was created by ESGR to publicly recognize individuals who provide outstanding patriotic support and cooperation to their employees who have answered their nation’s call to serve,” said West. “Supportive supervisors are critical to maintaining the strength and readiness of the nation’s Guard and Reserve units.”

“National Guard and Reserve members bring tremendous skills and capabilities to our workforce, and employer support for their military service is critical to maintaining the strength of our Guard and Reserve units,” said West. “By valuing the military service of their Guard and Reserve employees, employers are directly supporting the readiness and retention of our All-Volunteer Force, and our national defense.”

“Both of my parents were in the Army and I was born at Fort Lewis,” said Otero during the award presentation. “I really appreciate the award and what it means.”

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. For more information about ESGR outreach programs or volunteer opportunities, call (800) 336-4590 or visit

Pictured: Karrissa Otero (left), assistant special agent in-charge with the U.S. Department of Energy Office of the Inspector General, was presented with an Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve Patriot Award by Judy West (right, east area chair for the Washington Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Committee, in recognition of extraordinary support of her employees serving in the Guard and Reserve. Otero was nominated by Washington Army National Guardsman Lt. Col. Dana Epperson, a special agent with the Department of Energy. 

Posted in: Washington
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