LEBANON – HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, was honored for its support of college employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve.
Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense agency, presented the Patriot Award to HACC President John J. "Ski" Sygielski, Ed.D., on Thursday, Aug. 9, at the HACC Lebanon Campus.
Darryl Hamm, who served 35 years with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard before retiring last year, presented the award on behalf of ESGR.
"Members of the National Guard and all Reserve components of our armed forces and their civilian employers form an alliance essential to our nation's national security,” Hamm said. “These brave men and women perform critical roles in disaster relief efforts at home and continue to serve around the world to ensure our freedom. They could not perform their critical mission without support from employers like HACC.”
Any member of the Guard or Reserve can nominate his or her employer for the honor. Criteria for selection include such factors as the employers’ willingness to stay in contact with the employee during training or long deployments and the adoption of supportive human resources policies.
HACC was nominated by Adam Walter, a HACC alumnus who serves as the college’s director of military and veteran affairs. Walter also serves in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard unit in Middletown, Pa.
“The staff here cares about the Guard and Reserves,” Walter said, recalling the attention he received during a deployment in the Middle East.
“My supervisor at the time took time to communicate out to me when I was away, checking with my family and finding out if they needed anything,” Walter said. HACC also paid a differential – an amount that covers the difference between his normal rate of pay and his military pay – he said, adding, “most companies don’t do that.”
HACC is one of four employers in Central Pennsylvania to receive the award.
Hamm retired last year from a career that included more than four decades in public service. In 2000, he was chosen to fill the newly created Command Chief Warrant Officer position for the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, a post he held until his retirement in 2005. Upon his retirement, he was awarded the Legion of Merit from the United States Army and the Pennsylvania Distinguished Service Medal.
The award ceremony was held at HACC’s Lebanon Campus, 735 Cumberland St.
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