If Thomas Bailey had any concerns that his military obligation might jeopardize his job at Johnson Ford, he needn’t have.
Bailey, who handles Internet Technology responsibilities for the local Ford dealer and is a sergeant in the Alabama National Guard, found out quickly that he had the complete support of his supervisor, Ben Odom, and company president Jim Johnson.
That support, along with Bailey’s appreciation of it, was strong enough that officials of Alabama’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve awarded Odom, the dealership’s general manager, a Patriotic Employer Award during the February 12 meeting of the Atmore City Council.
Dr. William Kringel, a retired colonel who chairs the state’s ESGR program, Paul Worthey, a retired state trooper who also held the rank of colonel in the Army Reserves, and Charlotte Boyle, the organization’s state scribe, attended the council meeting to make the presentation.
“Our goal is to enhance and approve the relationship between reservists and guardsmen and their employers,” Kringel explained prior to the award presentation. “In 1972, when the Vietnam War was winding down, it was evident that if you were going to have a volunteer force, you needed to have employers willing to grant military leave and other activities as far as the nation’s goals and objectives.”
Also prior to the presentation of the Patriotic Employer Award, Boyle read the narrative written by Bailey when he nominated Odom for the honor, stating that his words were “so impressive to the people in Washington (D.C.).”
The citizen soldier noted that Odom “never questioned my responsibility to the Army National Guard and never asked for proof of my service when I was called on.” He further wrote that Odom and Johnson allowed him “without any questions” to drive a company vehicle to and from his military duties.
“I am the only one in the Internet department, so my absence was a great burden to them, but they never complained,” wrote Bailey, who pointed out that his military training made him a better employee. “They let me leave on a moment’s notice … only knowing that I’m needed elsewhere to help the citizens of Alabama and this great nation. They know that the training I have received in the Army has greatly contributed to my work quality.”
As Worthey presented the award to Odom, he expressed his — and ESGR’s — appreciation for the support the automobile dealership has given its employee.
After reading the commendation, which was issued by the Secretary of Defense’s office, he praised such honorees as contributors to national security and the cause of liberty and freedom.