In just 60 short days, Wes Craig's tenure as the Pennsylvania State Chair will come to a close. In recognition of that, Wes was asked to reflect on his years of service to our service members and ESGR. Below are his unedited thoughts:
My reflections on the last three years of ESGR work
"The PA Committee has done some exceptional work generating support for Pennsylvanian’s who are members of the Reserve Components over the last several years. I thank all 90 volunteers! You have made quite a difference supporting the operational force in the Guard and Reserves.
Over the last several years, we have seen the 3-278th CAV Squadron (700 troops) and the entire 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team (4000 troops) placed into an enhanced readiness pool that saw their normal 39 training assemblies almost doubled. The 278th CAV then spent a year in Poland, the 56th SBCT deployed all their battalions separately for a three- four week periods of annual training. The four Air Wings in the state continued their busy operations all over the world. We had the employers of these more than 7,000 troops heavily impacted by this busy schedule. ESGR jumped into the middle of all this, providing USERRA briefings to all plus placing strong recommendations for all troops to submit their employers for well- deserved ESGR awards. Their response has been outstanding! Over the last three years, we have presented over 1,600 awards to deserving employers. I have done close to 100 myself. All employers have been very grateful to accept the recognition and thanks from ESGR and their employee. In addition, we have had six finalists for the Freedom Award, two every year (2018, 2019, and 2020), with two winners in 2018. Pennsylvania employers are the BEST! Our hard work has made them realize they are appreciated, leading to better understanding and support for our Citizen Soldiers.
The PA National Guard has recently seen hundreds of their troops mobilized under a Presidential disaster declaration for support during the COVID 19 pandemic. A month ago they also had over 2,000 mobilized to help control the rioting and looting that occurred in several major cities after George Floyd was killed. Ones, again ESGR was there with information on USERRA, providing information to both employers and troops.
We have had a number of changes in our own ranks. First of all, “Fred from Pennsylvania “, Fred Fair, our longest serving volunteer and State Vice Chair, has retired from that role. He has been approved to receive the James Roche Award, the highest award for a volunteer in ESGR. Fred is the first volunteer from Pennsylvania to receive this high honor. I plan on presenting it to him in the New Castle area as soon as we are approved to travel. Susan Robinson has been appointed as the new State Vice Chair. I am retiring due to term limitations and being replaced by Marty Kuhar. Marty will do an outstanding job in this new role, just as he has done running the mountain area. I will take over the SE area. Debbie Golden has been appointed as our new Military Outreach chair.
Bill Burkhard took on the role of our PAO and has done a super job, our FB page is full of our activities and Bill works hard getting us many local hometown press releases.
PA ESGR also lost one of our stalwarts, when Larry Klink passed away last fall. He worked in our support staff since 2007 and is greatly missed. We are extremely fortunate to keep our Volunteer Support Tech, Mrs. Theresa Arentzen. She has been with us since 2008 and is the absolute BEST in her position. I personally thank "T" for all she has done to keep our ESGR ship afloat and headed in the right direction!
I look forward to working as an area chairman for the next several years and continuing to support our troops in the Reserve Components. Thank you so much for all that you have done!"