Cartersville financial advisor receives DoD Patriot Award
by Matt Shinall
Jan 09, 2011 | 2033 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A wall in Olen Suire's Gilmer Street office is filled with plaques and awards he has received through 18 years as an Edward Jones financial advisor but his most recent award may be the most memorable.

Suire was presented with the Patriot Award for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves. Nominated by Jim Brown III, an Edward Jones financial advisor in Blairsville, Suire received the award for actions taken by himself and the company during Brown's deployment, retaining his office and caring for his family.

"Over my 18 years I've received a lot of awards, this is probably the most rewarding of all. ... We respect what he was there doing for us and fighting for our freedom," Suire said. "I think it's important. An employer should do it just out of respect for the individual that's going to serve his country for our freedom and to not abandon them and terminate their employment. To me it just makes better sense, if feasible, for the company to save that job."

Brown, a first lieutenant with B1-108 Recon Surveillance and Target Acquisition, has served in the Army for 15 years including 11 years active duty. He has seen five deployments to Macedonia, twice in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. Most recently, during his eight years with Edward Jones, Brown has served in Iraq and Afghanistan for 13 months and 10 months respectively.

"We have a responsibility to serve the client, but Edward Jones encourages us to serve in other capacities as well, and this just so happens to be mine," Brown said.

During his absence, which was longer than his deployments alone due to preparation and transport times, Brown's office was temporarily staffed by a full-time transitional financial advisor.

"While he was gone we actually brought in what we call a transitional financial advisor to run his office for him, to keep it in place and take care of his clients while he was in Iraq [and Afghanistan] with the promise that when he came back it was there for him. He didn't have to give up his career at Edward Jones to go serve his duty in the military," Suire said.

Suire is the regional leader for 75 offices in Northwest Georgia with Blairsville falling within his district. Caring for Brown's office and clients was Suire's job, but caring for Brown's family was a personal decision.

"While he was away we checked on his family ... his wife ... I would call and check on her. Occasionally I had things sent to her, flowers or a plant just saying 'thinking of you, hoping Jim is OK in Iraq.' Just made sure to look after her while he was out there and didn't abandon him like some companies do," Suire said.

Brown showed his appreciation for the treatment his family received while he served overseas. The factor he said is often overlooked is simply the dissemination of information.

"In my situation they bent over backwards to make sure my wife and kids were kept in the loop," Brown said.

Suire added that he has been impressed with Brown's clients and their loyalty for staying with the company throughout the changes. Brown reported that their clientele has actually grown as a result of his service. He feels the actions taken by the company to ensure that his office continued to operate smoothly gave his clients confidence.

"When you look at how much time I've been out of the office and how much time I've been on the books of Edward Jones, I think most employers would have figured a way to say, 'find something else to do because we just don't owe you anything anymore.' I think there are very few companies that would give that kind of support," Brown said.

Capt. Hayden Collins, as a representative of the U.S. Department of Defense, facilitates the award presentations for this area of the state and reflected on the magnitude of Brown's commendation for his employer.

"For Bartow County, this is the first Patriot Award that has been presented by an officer. The reason this is high profile and different is because officers are charged and commissioned with the individuals that serve the constitution under their command," Collins said. "As a commissioned officer, you give the order. It is your justice, your honor, your integrity because every life that you give an order to -- you are responsible for. You're responsible for the injury, for the potential death or the potential success for every order you give. Officers in the United States Army or in any service are given the most cherished value that anyone can receive in combat and that is the lives of the soldiers they are in charge of. These are America's finest."