BANGOR, Maine — Tom Richmond’s boss understands how tough it is to balance military and civilian life.
That’s why Richmond, a helicopter pilot with the Army National Guard and a dispatcher at the Penobscot Regional Communications Center, nominated his boss for an award.
Jim Ryan, director of the Penobscot Regional Communications Center, received the Patriotic Employer Award on Tuesday during the weekly meeting of the Penobscot County commissioners. The award was presented by Gregory R. Small, executive director of the Maine Committee of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
“Quite a lot is asked of guardsmen and women and reservists timewise,” Richmond, 32, of Hudson said when asked why he nominated Ryan for the award. “A lot of times, trainings are scheduled on short notice or a scheduled training gets changed. Jim has made it clear that whenever anything comes up like that, he’ll let me have time to do it. That gives me huge peace of mind, knowing that my job is not in jeopardy.”
The Maine Committee of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve facilitates and promotes a cooperative culture of employer support for the National Guard and Reserve service by developing and advocating mutually beneficial initiatives, recognizing outstanding employer support, increasing awareness of applicable laws and policies, resolving potential conflicts between employers and their service members and acting as the employer’s principal advocate within the U.S. Department of Defense, according to information on its website.
“[Richmond’s] service would not be possible without the support he has from his employer,” Small said Tuesday. “Soldiers nominate their employers for this award. He talked very highly of his experience here.”
Ryan, who spent 30 years in the U.S. Naval Reserve, said the recognition meant a great deal to him as a manager and as a former part-time sailor.
“To me, this is very special,” Ryan said Tuesday. “My heart is military. I’m very honored to receive this honor.”
Richmond said that some of his fellow guardsmen and women were unable to take full-time jobs because their employers were not as supportive as Ryan is.
Employers and supervisors who have been in the military, as Ryan has, are some of the most supportive of employees in the Guard and Reserves, Small said.
“Having a boss who has been in the Naval Reserve has been helpful,” Richmond said. “He has an understanding of how difficult it can be to balance military and civilian stuff.”
Ryan said that when Richmond goes to a training, his weekend drill or annual two-week training, other employees cover his shifts. That sometimes means overtime.
“If he were to be deployed, we’d absorb it, fill in and pray that he and his group would be safe,” Ryan said.
Tom Davis of Kenduskeag, chairman of the county commissioners, said Thursday that Ryan had the support of the commissioners.
“The award Jim got was nice but what Tom does is even nicer,” Davis said Thursday. “We understand that all our servicemen and women who put themselves in harm’s way are protecting us, our way of life, and the lives of our children. Of course we should support them.”
Richmond is a member of the 142nd Aviation Army National Guard Air Assault Unit. He has been in the Guard for 14 years. Richmond has been a dispatcher since May 2009.