Before the final winner is announced in Washington, D.C., service members nominate deserving employers for the Freedom Award given by Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, an operational committee of the DOD. For 2013, 2,899 employers were nominated, including 102 from Georgia, and among them were two employers representing Bartow County.
Cartersville Middle School received a nomination this year along with the Bartow County School System, being recognized for the second year in a row.
“I wish I, as superintendent, could take credit, but we try as a system to recognize the people that work with us who serve in the military,” said Bartow County School Superintendent John Harper. “We have someone off in military leave right now. The individual we’re talking about came and taught with us for a year and went back to do a year’s active service because they needed her, but she is coming back and we will have a position for her.”
The employee Harper referenced is the same that nominated Bartow County Schools last year, South Carolina National Guardsman Allison Dittrich. Last year in an interview with The Daily Tribune News, Dittrich expressed gratitude for Adairsville High School and Bartow County Schools for their support during a natural disaster deployment during her first year with the system. Dittrich is again serving her country, this time on a one-year deployment, but when she returns a job with Bartow County Schools will be waiting.
“Our kids learn a lot from her just from her actions, much less what she teaches in the classroom,” Harper said. “We just appreciate so much, the opportunity we have as a school system to have people who serve in the military and go out on the frontlines or go out and work to make us be a safer country.
“If they’re willing to come work with us and continue to serve our country in that capacity putting themselves on the line to keep our freedom and our flag waving is certainly important for us as a school system and me as a superintendent to support those efforts. I just couldn’t be more pleased as superintendent as well as the board’s feeling about what we need to do to support our troops.”
Also recognized this year was Cartersville Middle School. Principal Jeff Hogan, however, was not aware of who had nominated the school. A CMS assistant principal is an Air Force Reservist and a CMS teacher retired from the Naval Reserves in December.
“We support our military as a school and as a system 100 percent and we understand, respect and appreciate what they’re doing,” Hogan said. “They’re giving of themselves and in the case of one our teachers a couple years ago was actually deployed for a year to Iraq and Afghanistan. So not only are they serving their country, but they’re putting their lives at risk and are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. Personally, and I know our system knows, that’s why it’s important to support them. In society today, we know that because of cuts our military probably isn’t as large as it once was and our reservists are more important than ever.”
Echoing Hogan’s sentiments, the ESGR released a statement last week announcing the nominees. In the release, the ESGR reports that nearly half of the U.S. military’s force is comprised of Guard and Reserve members.
“Every year, these nominations demonstrate the strength of our employers’ commitment to supporting our Guardsmen and Reservists,” said ESGR National Chair James G. Rebholz. “We applaud all the National Guard and Reserve Service members who took the time to tell the DoD why their employers are exceptional, and we are grateful to the 2013 nominees for providing our Citizen Warriors with the assistance and encouragement they rely on while answering the call to duty.”
For more information, visit www.freedomaward.mil.