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ESGR in the News


MINNEAPOLIS – Army Reserve Maj. Paul Townsend presented an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Patriot Award to Sarah Vanvleet, at a Pharmacy Department staff meeting at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) April 7. The Minneapolis VAMC’s Chief of Pharmacy, Lisa Anderson, work colleagues, and Minnesota ESGR Committee member Christie Nixon participated in the award presentation.

Townsend is a Chaplain in the 125th Chaplain Detachment, 88th Mission Command Support Group in Denver, Colorado and a Pharmacy Technician at the Minneapolis VAMC. He enlisted in the Army over 20 years ago as a Field Artillery Soldier and served on Active Duty for three years – including a 2003 deployment to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. During that deployment, a mobilized USAR Chaplain talked with him about changing career fields as he transitioned from active duty. He commissioned and has been a USAR Chaplain for over 14 years. He deployed in that role, again to Iraq, for Operation New Dawn in 2011.

Townsend has worked as a chaplain for the VA and went through a pharmacy management training program offered to veterans and added that career possibility to his resume. He has been at the Minneapolis VA as a Pharmacy Technician since 2021, supervised by Sarah Vanvleet, Pharmacy Technician Supervisor and 16-year VA employee.

Townsend recognized the high-demand, high-stress position that Ms. Vanvleet occupies. He expressed his appreciation for her generosity and helpfulness when he or other Reserve Component workers on the team are called to Reserve duty on short notice or long. He described her as helpful, kind, and an expert at conflict resolution.

Chief of Pharmacy, Lisa Anderson, agreed that those descriptions were apt for Sarah, and said, “She was a leader even before she was a supervisor.”

Vanvleet expressed her appreciation for the recognition and for the work all of the Pharmacy Techs do for the VA and consequently for veterans. Interactions at the staff meeting showed clear mutual respect between her and the people both up and down the supervisory ladder.

Chief of Pharmacy, Lisa Anderson, signed an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Statement of Support, confirming that the company joins other employers in pledging:

  • We fully recognize, honor, and comply with the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act (USERRA).
  • We will provide our managers and supervisors with the tools they need to effectively manage employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve.
  • We appreciate the values, leadership and unique skills service members bring to the workforce and will encourage opportunities to hire Guardsmen, Reservists and Veterans.
  • We will continually recognize and support our country’s service members and their families, in peace, in crises and in war.

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 assists in resolving conflicts between Service members and their employers. In 2022, ESGR celebrated 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 .

Photo: MAJ Paul Townsend (Minneapolis VAMC Pharmacy Tech), Sarah Vanvleet (Minneapolis VAMC Pharmacy Tech Supervisor), Christie Nixon (ESGR Volunteer – MN).

Photo: Lisa Anderson (Minneapolis VAMC Director of Pharmacy) signs Statement of Support.

Posted in: Minnesota
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