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Schools honored for their support of Guard, Reserves
ltc david smith
Lt. Col. David Smith, assistant principal at Sand Hill Elementary School, talks about what the school system's support of its Guard and Reserves employees has meant. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

ant principal at Sand Hill Elementary School. But he has another job and he represented his other duty assignment in uniform at last week’s Effingham County Board of Education meeting.

Smith, a lieutenant colonel in the Georgia Air National Guard’s 165th Airlift Wing and commander of the 165th Force Support Squadron, helped present the school board with Employer Support Freedom Award on behalf of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

Smith nominated the school board, and the package was selected at the state level to advance to the national level of competition.

“For such a small organizations as the school board, competing against Fortune 500 companies, it speaks volumes to the outstanding support you provide us in uniform,” Smith said. “On behalf of myself and all the current and past employees of the board of education who wear the uniform, thank you.”

The award is given to 15 companies across the nation for their support of employees who are in the National Guard and Reserves.

“To give you an idea of how rare this award is, when you talk about 15 companies around the country, and you are competing against Georgia Power and Raytheon and IBM,” said Lt. Col. (ret.) Chuck Clark, Georgia employer outreach coordinator for the ESGR, “it’s a pretty difficult environment.”

Clark said many of those involved in the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve are military retirees.

“This isn’t just a sideshow for us,” he said.

Clark said the role of the Guard and Reserves allows the active duty members to perform their missions. Many of the transportation and airlift functions, and other combat support roles, are carried out by Guard and Reserve units.

“If it weren’t it for spouses at home, if it weren’t for supportive employers, it wouldn’t happen,” Clark said. “Without the Guard and Reserve, what would our active component be able to do? They might make it to Savannah, but they wouldn’t get any farther.

“It is really important we support these folks.”