Western advisor receives Patriot Award for support of military student

Contact: Chris Hybels

Left to right are Josey Campbell, Derek Andree and Major General Dennis Lutz, U.S. Army (Ret).

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's Derek Andree was recognized by the Office of the Secretary of Defense on May 13 as the recipient of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve's (ESGR) Patriot Award. Andree, the assistant director of admissions and advising in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), was nominated by a current student employee who was deployed between 2022 and 2023.

"When you're mobilized and have to come back, you really need a boss in a work enviroment that understands," said ESGR volunteer and retired U.S. Army Major General Dennis Lutz during the award reception. "You're juggling a lot of balls when you're in the service, and you really appreciate somebody who understands that."

The Patriot Award is given out by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense office. The ESGR was established to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee's military commitment. The award recognizes supervisors for providing support to Service member and his or her family through a wide-range of measures including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families and granting leaves of absence if needed.

"It is a honor and pleasure to be nominated by one of our students for this award," says Andree.

Andree was nominated by current student employee, Josey Campbell, an aviation flight science student. Starting as an office assistant in CEHD's advising office in 2021, Campbell had to leave for National Guard training and deployment to Syria in the summer of 2022. While abroad, she was a fire support specialist, directing infantry and artillery units onto their targets. Returning to Western in fall 2023, she was enthusiastically supported by Andree to return to her position. Andree also arranged a thank you gift for her service.

"Derek should be recognized for his quality support and above-and-beyond actions to create a welcoming non-discriminitory environment for military employees," wrote Campbell in her nomination letter. "It is easy to schedule work hours around drill weekends and annual training. There is not even a hint of punishment for the inconvenience."

"He has continuously recognized my efforts and I would like to have him be recognized for his."

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