The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense (DOD) agency, came to CSUN’s Institute for Community Health and Wellbeing on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 to conduct a private ceremony awarding the Patriot Award to Institute director, Dr. David Boyns, and AVP of Academic Resources, Diane Stephens.
"An employee serving in the National Guard or Reserve, or the spouse of a Guard or Reserve member, may nominate individual supervisors and bosses for support provided directly to the nominating Service member 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."
The Patriot Award reflects the high level of support that David Boyns and Diane Stephens have shown toward current service members. One employee in particular is the Institute’s Administrative Coordinator, Danielle de Asis, who serves in the United States Army with the California National Guard.
“The ESGR’s mission is to develop and promote a culture in which all American employers support and value the military service of their employees… The ESGR’s goal is to support America’s employers who share their most valuable resource, the employees, with our great Nation thereby ensuring our national security” (Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve).
Danielle, or SPC de Asis as she is known in the Army, enlisted on July 2015. Since then, she has taken two lengthy leaves from CSUN. The first was for three months in 2015 when she left for Basic Combat Training, or what is more commonly known as “bootcamp.” The second was for two months in 2016 for her specialized training, or Advanced Individual Training.
“Being a ‘Citizen Soldier’ means I often get pulled into different directions professionally. I am the Administrative Coordinator at the Institute for Community Health and Wellbeing during the week, but for a few days a month, I am a soldier in the US Armed Forces. David, the entire Institute team, and David’s boss, Diane, have been very supportive and understanding of my absences related to me serving the State and Nation. The most recent example I have is when the California National Guard was put on alert to respond to the Oroville Spillway incident up north back in January. I texted David that I was on standby and we worked it out that I could leave the office within minutes of getting activated,” said de Asis.
Every time a service member employee has to go on “orders” for extended periods of time, the employee needs to file for Military Leave with the Department of Human Resources. CSUN gives 30 days of military leave to military employees, after that month, the employee has the option of using vacation days or request Leave without Pay.
“I feel guilty leaving the office even though legally they cannot prevent me from going. Having a boss who is very supportive has been such a blessing,” said de Asis. Both David and Diane have not only been accommodating, but instrumental in making arrangements for Danielle’s transition from civilian to soldier.
Danielle nominated her employers secretly, and arranged for Ernest Cowell of the ESGR to come to campus and make the presentation.
“What a lovely surprise! I’m thrilled that CSUN has been able to support Danielle on her journey as a soldier,” said Diane Stephens.
“Today was very special. I am very honored to be awarded the ESGR award, and to have been able to support Danielle on her amazing and important adventure these past two years. I have to say ... I am rarely surprised or caught off guard with things like this. I usually know something is up - I have a 6th sense for it. However, this award was a total and complete surprise, which made it all the more special,” said Dr. David Boyns.
“Having office support was very important to me when I was making the decision on enlisting. The Institute director at the time of my enlistment, Dr. Dianne Philibosian, told me that if the military was something I wanted to pursue, I shouldn’t let work keep me from that goal. Our Associate Director, Dr. Sal Esparza was a combat medic with the Army. When I told him about my desire to enlist, he had very good things to say about his own experience, and when I was in Basic Training going through extreme physical training, he sent me an encouraging letter about his own training,” said de Asis.
Danielle was very excited to learn about the ESGR and encourages other service members to nominate their employers.
“I think guardsmen and reservists should nominate their deserving employers because it shows appreciation and faith in the organization. It also promotes the good work ‘part time’ military do in juggling their civilian and military lives.”
She adds “bonus points if your supervisor is like mine! My entire office have really been my family. They sent me cards, letters, arts work, and care packages while I was in training. Mail Call is the highlight of a service member’s day!” Last year, Danielle spent her birthday in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Having a birthday in training could be better, but thankfully she received a very entertaining card from the office to let her know they are thinking of her.
The Institute leadership and staff were excited to applaud David and Diane and encourage other organizations on- and off-campus to support their service member staff.