Niagara Reserve Airman recognizes employer through ESGR award

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Lucas Morrow
  • 914th Air Refueling Wing

On an unusually warm November 8th day in Fayetteville, New York, Capt. Pamela Hartsell, a dental hygienist for a local dental practice, gathered her team of fellow hygienists, dental technicians, dentists and office manager to meet outside for a ceremony to honor their continued support of Hartsell by presenting her supervisor with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve’s (ESGR) Patriot Award. The award recognizes individual supervisors of citizen warriors for their continued support through flexible schedules, time off before and after deployments, and extended care to their loved ones.

“This is a small way for me to return the favor from your support through all the changes of orders,” said Hartsell. “In my absence, you still take care of each other and the patients. It’s a great burden on us as we’re being deployed, training, or school and you guys share that burden when we leave to serve.”

Although Hartsell’s full-time job is working as a dental hygienist in Central New York, she often travels 150 miles west to Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, New York, dawns her military uniform, and becomes Chaplain Hartsell for the 914th Air Refueling Wing where she provides spiritual & pastoral care, ministry and counseling services to Reserve Citizen Airmen. Bill Cleary, the ESGR Ombudsman Director for New York made the trip to Central New York to facilitate the presentation of the award to Hartsell’s supervisors, Sharon Robertson, Dr. Keith Stevener and Dr. Steve Procopio. Cleary read a short statement from Hartsell detailing her appreciation for her civilian employers.

“It is their support that allows me to perform my military duty without any worry of my absence in the office,” reads Cleary from the award citation. “They truly lift a lot of the weight off my shoulders and that goes a long way to help make a smooth transition.”

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon attended the ceremony to present the awards and to say a few words on the importance of Reserve Citizen Airmen and the equal importance of their employer’s support.

“What they go through each day is really amazing,” said McMahon. "This is a real honor today. The fact that you made this a home for the chaplain and the fact that you’re here to support her as she transitions back and forth from civilian to military life—because that’s not easy. Thank you for doing that.”

Following the award presentation, Hartsell made sure to bring a long-standing Air Force tradition to Central New York by presenting her entire team with the 914th Air Refueling Wing challenge coin.

All Guard and Reserve members are welcome to nominate their employers for the Service Member Patriot Award.