published Friday, May 4th, 2012

Local businesses honored for supporting military

Award winners

• Anetta Ferguson, principal of Hardy Junior High School, recipient of a special award for her service to our military men and women.

• Colon Pope, CSX, recipient of a "Boss is a Patriot" award.

• Ora Green, Jasper Machine Co., recipient of a "Boss is a Patriot" award.

• Megan Lyness, GSA, recipient of a "Boss is a Patriot" award.

• Sgt. Rodney Terrell, Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, recipient of a "Boss is a Patriot" award

• Terry Conley, Conley Service Center, recipient of a "Boss is a Patriot" award.

• Chief Bobby Dodd, Chattanooga Police Department, recipient of a "Boss is a Patriot" award.

• Bradley County EMS, recipient of "Above and Beyond Award."

• Life Guard Ambulance Service, recipient of a "Special Award."

The region chapter of a military reserve and guard support group honored local business leaders Thursday for their efforts with deployed troops.

"Your commitment to supporting the troops is more than skin deep, it is critical," said U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, the guest speaker.

A crowd of more than 70 people in the Chattanooga Choo Choo attended the annual Employer Support of Guard and Reserve awards banquet. The event works as both a way to show appreciation to local military supporters and also show others how crucial such support is, said David Goodman, ESGR East Tennessee chapter coordinator.

The awards also recognize family and those who assist reserve and National Guard troops' families while the soldiers are deployed.

Established in 1972 near the end of the Vietnam War, the organization is under the Department of Defense and began as an effort to protect deployed soldiers' employment rights. Before laws were passed by Congress in previous decades, employers had no legal duty to keep a job open for a deployed military member.

Goodman said there's a lot of support in East Tennessee for the military, and the group rarely has problems.

"[Businesses] understand, they get it," Goodman said. "These men and women are the ones really bearing the brunt of the whole program."

Tennessee Army National Guard Capt. Denny Helmick nominated Terry Conley, owner of Conley Service Center, for one of nine awards presented Thursday. Helmick said Conley helped his wife with car troubles on numerous occasions, sometimes driving her to work when her car needed repairs.

Deployed overseas, Helmick wasn't able to help, and he said Conley's assistance was crucial.

"I knew that he was taking care of my family. He has integrity and follow through," Helmick said. "It was just a comfort to know I didn't have to worry about that."

Conley shrugged off the work. A veteran guardsman himself, he said, "There's no second thought, you just do it."

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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