ALEXANDRIA, Va. (May 1, 2023) – Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve proudly announces the 2022 Volunteers of the Year (VOTY). Volunteers who serve in following functional and operational areas were nominated by their respective State Committee for the prestigious honor of being named Volunteer of the Year: Military Outreach, Employer Outreach, Public Affairs, Training, Ombudsman, and Operations.
The Functional and Operational Area VOTY Award is a national level ESGR award established to recognize those volunteers who have made significant contributions in ESGR’s primary functional and operational areas during the previous fiscal year.
This year’s recipients are:
Employer Outreach – Peter Caspari, Florida
Military Outreach – Robert Peterson, California
Public Affairs – Robyn Keller, North Dakota
Ombudsman – Leroy Frahm, Wisconsin
Training – Bruce Damrow, Tennessee
Operations – James Combs, California
These outstanding, patriotic individuals have collectively delivered more than 3,700 hours of service to ESGR over the past year. That's the equivalent of nearly two years of labor! Based on the current value of a “volunteer hour” that's a return-on-investment worth approximately $118,000.
ESGR, a Department of Defense program, seeks to foster a culture in which all employers support and value the employment and military service of members of the National Guard and Reserve in the United States. ESGR develops and promotes supportive work environments for Service members in the Reserve Components through outreach, recognition, and educational opportunities that increase awareness of applicable laws. It also provides assistance in resolving conflicts between Service members and their employers. To learn more about ESGR, part of the Defense Support Services Center, visit www.ESGR.mil.
Volunteers of the Year Citations
EMPLOYER OUTREACH VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:
Peter Caspari, Florida
Peter's efforts have resulted in furthering the partnership with the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM). Peter conducted a focus group with SHRM leaders resulting in an action plan to mutually coordinate activities aligning SHRM chapters with local military units. Peter spearheaded the Florida ESGR Committee 50th Anniversary Celebrations. As a result of his efforts, Florida conducted the celebrations during SHRM Chapter and leadership council meetings, military, and employer events at SOUTHCOM and Homestead Air Force Reserve Base, the Florida National Guard Association Convention and employer recognition events. He is always willing to coach and mentor volunteers, conducting numerous training sessions in how to conduct employer outreach briefings and established displays.
MILITARY OUTREACH VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:
Robert Peterson, California
Bob Peterson served as the Military Outreach Director for the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve in California, supporting nearly 800 Coast Guard Reservists in the state and 11% of all USCGR nationally. He secured an agreement for ESGR support with the USCGR at the Region and National level and planned, coordinated, and executed the first ever USCGR Boss Lift in California. Additionally, Rob coordinated an employer and ESGR invitation only event with the San Francisco based Fleet Week with the Navy and Coast Guard. A second boss lift with the USCGR in Los Angeles is being planned for early next year and the planning has extended to Oregon and Washington as well. He also grew his USCGR Ambassador team by over 100%.
OMBUDSMAN VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:
Leroy Frahm, Wisconsin
Leroy is a top-notch expert in all Ombudsman areas and has participated in all of the National Ombudsman training courses and instructed one of them. Recently he has supported all cases related to deployments and questions regarding USERRA. Leroy has been fully engaged in supporting all cases and questions from service members and their employers in a superlative manner since COVID began and deployments continued and accelerated. He has been an outstanding volunteer for 15 years. He has served as the Vice Chair of one of our Areas which includes 16 Wisconsin counties that have 31 Guard and Reserve units, 5 of which he supports as the military liaison. Leroy Frahm is an absolute champion for our ESGR mission and is compassionate to all military members.
OPERATIONS VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:
James Combs, California
Jim Combs transitioned from California's Chair with an unbridled willingness to assume new responsibilities, which fueled his many contributions in all areas of military outreach, employer outreach, training, and event coordination. Jim served as Employer Outreach Deputy Director and Military Outreach Director Navy Reserve which in effect made him a full-time volunteer with our committee. He visited all nine Navy Reserve Centers representing 7,925 Navy Reservists. Jim's digital acumen was noticed immediately by two Navy Regions. As a result, he conducts deployment cycle briefs which reach more than 400 Navy Reservists monthly. This and his involvement in Soldier Readiness Processing helped us achieve 18,572 MO engagements. He also serves as National Employer Outreach Ad Hoc Subcommittee Chair.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:
Robyn Keller, North Dakota
Rob was interviewed twice this past year by local television stations. These interviews were posted on ESGR website and were mentioned on national calls. He successfully trained an assistant public affairs director in 2022 and provides excellent training and updates at monthly committee meetings. Rob has also volunteered to teach and train during Headquarters ESGR public affairs training. Rob conducted multiple award presentations, briefings and events. A 26-year military veteran having served on active duty and the North Dakota National Guard, he is continually contacted to provide guidance on communications, photography, and social media expertise. He is also a member of the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services Emergency Support Team. Rob's leadership, training ability, and expertise related to public affairs and social media have made him a go to person.
TRAINING VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:
Bruce Damrow, Tennessee
Bruce has immensely improved our training status in Tennessee over the past year. He assumed the training director position just before the start of this year and worked with six area chairs to educate and assist them on training requirements for their volunteers - including 10 monthly executive committee meetings (EXCOMS). As a result, our Training numbers for this year have greatly improved. He screened the entire training status of all Tennessee ESGR Volunteers and set in motion a plan to ensure the volunteers were trained and up to date. In addition, he presented helpful employer outreach training to our volunteers at our Annual Planning and Awards Meeting (APAM) and helped plan a new volunteer training event as well. He further trained 37 APAM attendees on access to ESGR course sign-ins and introduced an effective program to mentor new volunteers.