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ALEXANDRIA, Va. –­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ In this our 50th year, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve proudly announces the 2021 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 – John (Jack) Simmons, California

Military Outreach – Alan Battenburg, Texas

Public Affairs – William (Bill) Burkhard, Pennsylvania

Ombudsman – Kathleen Dial, Texas

Training – David MacDonna, Illinois

Operations – Joseph (Joe) Boscacci, California

These outstanding, patriotic individuals have collectively delivered more than 3,500 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 $100,00.

About ESGR

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 Personnel and Family Support Center, visit www.ESGR.mil.

Volunteers of the Year Citations

EMPLOYER OUTREACH VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:

John (Jack) Simmons, California  

Jack has been a stalwart leader in the California’s employer outreach initiative corresponding with over 2,600 employers in Los Angeles. He was part of the "Virtual Presentation Handbook" task force and made presentations during two Headquarters ESGR Virtual Volunteer Leadership Training Program (VVLTP) sessions. He attends and participates in all key committees for the State.  His guidance on the "Virtual Presentation Handbook" was key to its success.  He supports the Los Angeles area units and employers.  He tirelessly accumulated 1437 volunteer hours in the last fiscal year and was instrumental in the success of a boss lift.

MILITARY OUTREACH VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:

Alan Battenburg, Texas

Alan communicated daily with the Fort Bliss Deployment Processing Center, which is perhaps the country's busiest MOB-DEMOB center.  For years, he's made the 50-mile roundtrip to brief thousands of service member’s transitioning Fort Bliss.  He arrives early, provides a USERRA briefing, and as a trained ombudsman stays after to answer individual questions or help service members file an official USERRA inquiry.  In fiscal year 21’ Alan briefed more than 9,600 service members and logged hundreds of volunteer hours. Even with COVID restrictions, Alan's personal efforts reached service members from across the country who would have otherwise never seen an ESGR volunteer.

OMBUDSMAN VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:

Kathleen Dial, Texas

Kathleen was competitively selected for the Headquarters ESGR Ombudsman “Train the Trainer” program and contributed to that program throughout fiscal year 21. Kathleen not only attended every Ombudsman Sustainment Training session conducted last year, but was also a co-presenter with Headquarters ESGR staff on two occasions where she received high praise.  She developed and presented case studies for our Texas ombudsman corps which were also used to train the Houston Police Department’s Military Liaison Peer Group on the USERRA law. She was involved in all aspects of the ombudsman program, from handling formal USERRA inquiries, informal service member inquiries, training ombudsmen from Texas and other states.

OPERATIONS VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:

Joseph (Joe) Boscacci, California  

Joe has served as Vice Chair for CAESGR for the past 6 years and dedicated his retirement to advancing ESGR's vision, investing thousands of hours this fiscal year to meet objectives. Joe is always at the forefront of events and programs as a supervisor or passionate participant.  He has leveraged a broad network of governmental agencies, business associations, nonprofits & employers who share ESGR’s values and commitment to the wellbeing of the Guard and Reserve into a collaborative team. Joe is the quintessential volunteer. He exudes strong empathy for reservists and employers and seeks every opportunity to reach out to help both.

PUBLIC AFFAIRS VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:

William (Bill) Burkhard, Pennsylvania

Bill Burkhard’s dedication and volunteer contributions to the Pennsylvania ESGR Committee and Headquarters ESGR is extraordinary. His expertise in telling the ESGR story, event coverage, and communication makes him an amazing asset to ESGR. He is the top producer of articles for ESGR nationwide with 32 published. He created a form to assist the volunteers on capturing the correct information needed for a press release and provided training for individual volunteers as needed. His social media posts for the Pennsylvania ESGR Committee have received positive feedback and continue to be timely and relevant. Bill also volunteers to lend his expertise to HQ ESGR Public Affairs monthly training.

TRAINING VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:

David MacDonna, Illinois

David innovated virtual training sessions for the volunteers in lieu of in-person annual meetings due to COVID restrictions.  He developed the ideas, found the experts, set up the virtual meeting and sent out the invites to the volunteers. His entertaining personality kept the training interesting while staying on topic and keeping the presentation moving.  Since the beginning of fiscal year 21, he has coordinated eleven virtual training sessions for the group. He has also personally assisted with orientation of 6 new volunteers. He has also trained and retrained all volunteers on the use of MMS (Member Management System), completion of required forms and how to use EventsPlus. 

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