Martin State Air National Guard Base, Md. --
The Maryland Air National Guard and Maryland’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve hosted civilian employers to thank them for continued support of their cyber and intelligence Airmen at Martin State Air National Guard Base, February 24, 2023.
Members of the 275th Cyberspace Operations Squadron took time to recognize their civilian employers for their support during their federal activation with the Cyber Protection Team. Twelve squadron members recognized a total of 18 employers across four Department of Defense organizations and eight companies, including defense contractors and private sector businesses.
“We rely heavily on our Citizen Airmen to step away from their civilian jobs to meet our state and federal mission requirements,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Kevin Taylor, Cyber Protection Team operations officer. “Without supportive employers, who go well above and beyond the minimum legal requirements, our members simply wouldn’t stay in the Guard and we would not meet our mission requirements.”
After a tour of the 175th Cyberspace Operations Group facilities and the Cyber Protection Team mobilization brief, the employers were presented the ESGR Patriot Award in the operations auditorium.
Employees nominate their employers for the Office of the Secretary of Defense Patriot Award based on the support of the part-time military members with things like flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence if needed. Historically, less than 5% of Reserve Component members nominate their employers for the prestigious award.
“My supportive employer understands that while I’m away for the Guard, it is not a total loss to the DoD cyber mission,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Jennifer Santos, CPT crew lead. “The work I do in my DoD civilian job and in my Guard job are complementary and impactful to one another. I’m continuously bolstering my cyber expertise, returning with increased knowledge to accelerate the mission. I’m grateful that my employer recognizes the value I bring to the cyber community to achieve our organization’s success.”
Brig. Gen. Jori Robinson, 175th Wing commander, Chief Master Sgt. James Bottorff, 175th Wing command chief, and Chief Master Sgt. Kelly Edmonds, 175th Cyberspace Operations Group senior enlisted leader, were in attendance at the awards ceremony. Along with Maryland ESGR representatives, Robinson handed out the awards and personally thanked the employers.
“The support of the employers we honored is huge because it provides our guardsmen peace of mind, encourages their continued service, and allows them to focus on the mission at hand,” said Edmonds. “This event is important because it connected employers directly to the mission, increased their buy-in, and showcased how their Guardsmen defend our nation against cyber adversaries. It gave us an opportunity to recognize the employer’s sacrifice, show our gratitude, forge partnerships, and tell our Maryland Air National Guard story.”
The employers also learned about the 175th Wing’s flying mission. Members of 104th Fighter Squadron briefed the attendees on the mission and capabilities of the A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft and had an opportunity to experience the A-10 flight simulator. Additionally, members of the 175th Maintenance Group greeted attendees at the maintenance hangar where they were able to get up close and personal with an actual A-10 aircraft.
“This has been quite a humbling event. Being able to learn about what our service members do when they step away from their civilian life,” said Mr. Brian White from Navy Federal Credit Union. “It was great to take a pause and celebrate our service members in the Air National Guard while they are serving and doing a job that is vitally important to our country.”