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The Boss Trap: NC and MO Airmen Nominate Same Employer for ESGR Award

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Nathan Clark
  • 145th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

It’s one thing for an employee to acknowledge an outstanding boss, it’s quite another for two employees from separate states to nominate the same boss at the same time. This was the case however, when Tech. Sgt. Stacey Wakefield, a drill status guardsman with the 156th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, nominated his supervisor for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Patriotic Employer Award. 

For the unaware, Citizen Airmen is a term regularly applied to drill status service members who maintain civilian employment outside of their one weekend a month, two weeks a year commitment. More often than not, these Airmen find themselves called up for additional duty at a moments notice, which, can occasionally strain the employee/employer relationship. This is where the ESGR comes into play; their entire purpose is assisting service members who face difficulty reconciling their military and civilian lifestyles. It also helps recognize and celebrate those civilian employers who go the extra mile to accommodate service members by allowing  the members to nominate their exceptional bosses with an ESGR award. 

This year, Tech Sgt. Wakefield nominated his employer, Chris Mendlik, an Information Security Manger with Wells Fargo Bank in Charlotte North Carolina. 

“My manager, Chris, has readily supported my time away from my civilian job for short-notice missions with the 156th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and my Enlisted Professional Military Education,” said Tech. Sgt. Wakefield. “Chris has been excellent in developing an internal process for Guard members to navigate the human resources paperwork required to go on and return from active duty.”  

What makes Mr. Mendlik’s nomination so unique, is that he actually received two, the first from Tech Sgt. Wakefield here in Charlotte, and the second from Master Sgt. Sarah Evans, a military paralegal with the 131st Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. Master Sgt. Evans also works on Mendlik’s team from two states away. 

“During transitions from my civilian role to my military role, Christopher makes the experience positive and seamless. When I inform him of training or orders, he is pleasant and quickly responsive, Chris is an excellent civilian supervisor for National Guard members,” said Master Sgt. Evans. 

The Patriot Award is the first level that an employer can be nominated for, and reflects the efforts made to support citizen warriors through a wide-range of measures including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence if needed. 

“I can’t say this was my doing,” said Mr. Mendlik who was quite humbled after being presented his award. “You guys both (Master Sgt. Evans and Tech Sgt. Wakefield) have amazing co-workers who really jump in and take up any slack whenever we need to, so thank you guys and thank everyone else for supporting these guys too. Just really thank you all so much.”

A sentiment echoed by Tech. Sgt. Wakefield, “He recognizes the sacrifices everyone is making to support me during deployment and has always set a positive tone in the office concerning time away for military service; he ensures that my civilian teammates have the support and resources they need to be successful while I am gone.”