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GREAT FALLS, Mont. – NorthWestern Energy Superintendent Hydro Jerry Gray says his biggest concern when Ryan Osterman, supervisor of the hydro maintenance team, was on an eight-month deployment with the Montana Air National Guard, was to take care of things at work so that Osterman could focus on his duties.

“I tried to keep from contacting him with too many questions, I really didn’t want him to know what he would be dealing with when he came back to work,” Gray says with a grin. “That’s not to say Ryan wasn’t missed here, because he definitely was.”

Osterman, however, says Gray’s extraordinary support of his military service went far beyond what he expected. Master Sgt. Osterman nominated Gray for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Patriot Award, recognizing employers who provide outstanding support and cooperation for their employees who are National Guard and Reserve military personnel.

“While I was deployed, due to my position, NorthWestern Energy didn’t hire anyone to fill in, so Jerry did the work of two supervisors,” Osterman said. “He maintained contact with me and my family during my deployment and offered up his assistance to help with any problems my family came across while I was gone.”

Gray is quick to credit others with sharing the load, as well as NorthWestern Energy.

The training, skills and leadership employees who are military personnel bring to NorthWestern Energy are a valued asset, said NorthWestern Energy Director of Hydro Operations Jeremy Clotfelter.

Employer support is a critical component of success during deployments, said Montana ESGR Public Affairs Representative Mike Flaherty.

“You commit to keeping our members’ civilian jobs secure so they can serve our country and by doing that, you are serving this country too,” said Montana ESGR State Chair Brad Livingston.

ESGR is a volunteer program that is part of the Department of Defense. ESGR develops and promote a culture in which all American employers support and value the military service of their employees.

Article Courtesy of NorthWestern Energy Public Relations Specialist Jo Dee Black.

Photo: Mike Flaherty, Montana Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (Montana ESGR) Public Affairs representative, far left, and Brad Livingston, Montana ESGR State Chair, right, look on as Ryan Osterman, NorthWestern Energy supervisor of the hydro maintenance team, presents the ESGR Patriot Award, to NorthWestern Energy Superintendent Hydro Jerry Gray at Black Eagle Dam in Great Falls, Montana.

Posted in: Montana
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