PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Employees at Northern Maine Community College were surprised at a ceremony Tuesday afternoon with an award recognizing the efforts of the college and its employees in supporting the U.S. military, particularly the efforts of National Guardsmen.
During its annual employee holiday luncheon, Tim Crowley, president of NMCC, accepted the Seven Seals Award on behalf of 100 college employees. The Seven Seals Award is the highest award presented by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a U.S. Department of Defense agency. The award was created to publicly recognize employers who provide outstanding patriotic support and cooperation to employees and families of those that have been called to serve in the armed forces.
The college was nominated for the award by Dave Guerrette, a longtime faculty member who is also in the Maine Army National Guard. He most recently served in Iraq. In explaining why the campus was deserving of the honor, Guerrette cited several factors, including the support all military personnel are extended to fulfill their travel and weekend duties, the assistance provided to deployed employees and students to complete course work and academic programs, and the general support the campus demonstrates regularly for those serving their country.
According to statistics from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, the total of all National Guard members and Reserve forces from all branches of the military make up approximately 48 percent of the nation’s total available military manpower.
Gregory R. Small, executive director of the agency’s Maine committee, presented the award to Crowley.
Small said the number of National Guardsmen who have deployed since 9/11 has not reached such a level since World War II.
“Our national defense is critical,” he said. “And we could not do it without the National Guard or the support of employers.”
He praised NMCC for allowing students and staff to deploy, working with them when they return to slip easily back into their academic and work schedules, and providing them with counseling and other support to assure a smooth transition.
“We work closely with employers across the nation so men and women have good, gainful employment when they come back from training and deployment,” said Small. “NMCC is an excellent example of the best of the best in this regard.”
Representatives of U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and of Rep. Mike Michaud also read congratulatory remarks from the congressional delegation during Tuesday’s ceremony.
Snowe credited the college for its “exceptional support of our courageous men and women in uniform,” while Collins praised NMCC for consistently showing “gratitude to students and staff who have served.
“The campus and the city should be proud,” she relayed through her statement.
Michaud noted through his representative that the college shows “remarkable support for Maine’s citizen soldiers and their families.”
Brent Boyles, assistant adjutant general for the Maine Army National Guard, said during the ceremony that employers are not recognized enough for their efforts in supporting the military.
“This college has done fantastic things for us, not just for employees, but for students as well,” said Boyles. “Men and women could not volunteer to support their country if employers like NMCC didn’t support them. We could not have been able to be at war for a decade with part-time military if it were not for employers like NMCC.”
Crowley said he was pleased to accept the award on behalf of the college and its employees.
“I am proud of the way the staff here works with students so they can get back in class after their service and so that they don’t lose their place,” he said. “It is a wonderful pleasure and we’ll display this with pride.”