OLYMPIA, Wash. – Telling your employer that you have joined the Army Reserve and leaving for training would be stressful for any employee. However, having to tell a new employer that you have worked for just a couple of months, would cause anyone additional stress. That is the situation that now Army Reserve Cpl. Peter Sabian, an attorney at the Thurston County Public Defense faced when he enlisted in the Army Reserve.
“I began to work with Thurston County Public Defense in September 2021 as a public defender,” explained Sabian. “Patrick “Pat” O’Connor took a big chance on me by offering me the job when at the time I lived 1,600 miles away in rural New Mexico. He also waited for about two months for me to complete my employment duties in New Mexico and to give my prior employer enough of a notice to find a replacement for me.”
In mid-December 2021, Sabian decided to enlist in the Army Reserves which would require him to leave for his initial trainings. “When I enlisted with the Army Reserves, I was dreading having to deal Pat that I was going to leave for training in February 2022 for 5 to 6 months, especially since it was so soon after beginning my employment.”
By enlisting, Sabian did not only have his initial training obligations, but also potential deployments as reliance on the Reserve Components have significantly increased over the years. Since 9/11, over 1 million Guard and Reserve personnel have been activated, and in the past few years, about 20 to 40 thousand reservists are on active duty at any particular time.
However, Sabian soon learned that his concerns were unwarranted. “My fears were dispelled when Pat enthusiastically supported my decision,” said Sabian. “He kept my position, we made plans to made sure that hundreds of our clients would continue to be served, he wrote to me when I was at basic training, and he offered me a more permeant position when I was still in training.”
O’Connor’s support of Sabian’s military duty continued when Sabian returned to work. “Pat gave me an additional month of when I returned form training so that I could take care of my personal issues with my father passing,” explained Sabian. “He also welcomed me with open arms when I came back to work. Pat went above and beyond in helping me even though I had only been working at the office for a short time.”
In recognition of his support of Sabian, O’Connor was presented with a Patriot Award by Ohad Lowy, south sound area co-chair for the Washington Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Committee, a Department of Defense office that in part recognizes employers who are supportive of their employees who serve in the Reserve Components. Only members of the Reserves or National Guard, and their spouses may nominate an employer for the Patriot Award.
“The Patriot Award was created by ESGR to publicly recognize individuals who provide outstanding patriotic support and cooperation to their employees who have answered their nation’s call to serve,” said Lowy. “National Guard and Reserve members bring tremendous skills and capabilities to our workforce, and employer support for their military service is critical to maintaining the strength of our Guard and Reserve units. By valuing the military service of their Guard and Reserve employees, employers are directly supporting the readiness and retention of our All-Volunteer Force, and our national defense.”
“I was happy to support Peter when he came to me an explained he had joined the Army Reserves and his reasoning behind doing so,” said O’Connor. “Thurston County Public Defense, and really our entire county government, have a long history of supporting our military and veteran communities. We’ll miss Peter here in the office when he’s gone for his military service, but we’re excited to know he’ll be coming back!”
ESGR is a Department of Defense office that develops and promotes supportive work environments for service members in the National Guard and Reserve through outreach, recognition, and educational opportunities that increase awareness of applicable laws. ESGR also provides assistance in resolving conflicts between Service members and their employers.
This year, ESGR celebrates 50 years of excellence in support of the Reserve Components and their civilian employers. For more information about ESGR outreach programs or volunteer opportunities, call (800) 336-4590 or visit www.ESGR.mil/WA.