BREWER, Maine — Staff Sgt. Terry Bean, who spent a year in Iraq four years ago and who is heading back with his unit in January, wanted to thank his employer — General Electric Power Systems — for supporting him and his family.
The Hampden man, a member of the 133rd Engineer Battalion of the Maine Army National Guard, successfully nominated GE for a Patriotic Employer Award, given out through the U.S. Department of Defense.
The Maine branch of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Defense Department organization, honored GE and other local employers Tuesday during an awards ceremony at Jeff’s Catering.
“There are several soldiers [who] have deployed and two more, myself included, [who] are getting ready to go,” said Bean, a soldier with more than 20 years of U.S. Army experience. “They’ve always been supportive. They pay me one month upfront, pay my salary while I’m away. They send us care packages and check up on my family.
“They’re like a tight-knit family,” he said of GE and its employees.
“The company is proud of all our employees who serve in the Guard and Reserves,” said John Hatch, manager of shipping operations for the local GE plant. “We’re especially proud of all they do for the country.”
The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve is a group of volunteers who help to ensure the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 is upheld, recognize outstanding employers, and provide an ombudsman to help resolve any employment problem that arises.
“Very rarely in Maine do we have an issue,” said John Simpson, chairman of the Maine employer support group. “Our primary mission is to support the employer of the reservist or Guard members.”
The city of Bangor was given an “Above and Beyond Award” during the ceremony for “outwardly supporting and defending the Constitution of the U.S. by going ‘Above and Beyond’ in their support of the men and women who wear the uniform of the National Guard and Reserve,” said Gregory Small, executive director of the Maine employer support group.
Mayor Gerry Palmer and Assistant City Manager Bob Farrar were on hand to accept it.
In addition to GE, other employers were given Patriotic Employer Awards: Concord Trailways, Securitas Security Services USA Inc., the CareerCenter, Bangor VA Clinic, Blockbuster Video, Knight Errant Security, Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department and US Airways, all of Bangor.
The Ellsworth Fire Department, Maine State Police Troop J based in Ellsworth, the Hampden U.S. Postal Service facility, Haverlock, Estey & Curran accountants of Hampden, the Belfast customer marketing division of the Bank of America, the Bucksport Hannaford, Wilford Atwood of East Orland and Garbo Lobster of Hancock also were honored.