Support of soldiers earns Wichita franchisee a Patriot Award

01/16/2014 12:00 AM

01/15/2014 5:38 PM

James Hawkins joined Garret Peterman’s Two Men and a Truck Wichita franchise in July 2012.

Since that time, Hawkins said, Peterman has accommodated the demands of his military service and ongoing training as a combat medic in the Kansas Army National Guard.

On Wednesday, Hawkins’ appreciation for Peterman’s efforts was manifested in the Patriot Award, which was presented to Peterman by representatives of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense program.

“We’re constantly in and out for duty and training,” said Hawkins, one of four guardsmen and Army reservists at Peterman’s franchise at 8537 W. 21st St. “I can see it creates dissonance with the schedule, but he makes it happen.”

The Patriot Award is the first in a series of awards provided by ESGR. It recognizes an individual supervisor within a company or agency who does such things as provide flexible scheduling and leaves of absence, as well as other means of support. Individuals can be nominated only by a guard or reserve member, or their spouse.

Following the presentation of the award, Peterman signed a certificate, which will hang in the company’s offices, that says it supports employees who are members of the guard or reserve.

“It’s kind of humbling, you know,” Peterman said after receiving the award.

“We’re lucky to have these guys,” he said of Hawkins and the three other employees who serve as part-time soldiers. “They’re highly trained, they’re loyal, and they have the integrity that matches our company’s values.”

Peterman, who started the Wichita franchise in April 2012, said the company has 18 employees, which means about 20 percent of his workers are part-time soldiers.

Jim Wishart, an area chairman for ESGR in Kansas, estimates his group typically recognizes 200 to 300 companies and bosses in Kansas a year. But that recognition is trending down, Becky Richardson of the Kansas ESGR added, as the number of deployments of guard and reserve units decreases.

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