MEAD, Wash. – For years, starting from the attacks on September 11, through the Global War of Terror, and now with assisting with fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, the Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Sailors and Coast Guard personnel who make up the Guard and Reserve have been essential to the United States’ ability to engage in missions both domestically and around the world. However, such reliance on the Reserve Component can impact businesses, especially small businesses.
According to a recent study by the Small Business Administration (SBA), former service members are 45 percent more likely to own small businesses than nonveterans. While these veteran-owned business may feel the impact of the deployments of their Citizen Soldiers employees more so then in large companies, they also understand the commitment and the importance of the work their Citizen Soldiers do in their military service.
One such veteran and small business owner is Steve Wilson, an Air Force veteran and CEO at Mount Spokane Insurance.
Mount Spokane Insurance’s office manager, Ilea Wilson, is just one of four employees, and the only employee with tenure of over 10 years. Ilea also serves as a Senior Airman with the Washington Air National Guard’s 141st Air Refueling Wing, Washington’s only Air National Guard Flying unit. However, when Ilea was deployed to support COVID-19 related operations she was only meet with support from her employer.
“When I had to leave for three months on a COVID Temporary Duty in 2020 and two months for technical training in 2021, Steve supported my mission and maintained my position for when I returned,” said Ilea. “He even arranged for my vacation time to roll over from one year to the next to ensure that I received pay on the off chance that my military pay was delayed.”
For his support, Steve was recently recognized for his support of Ilea, with the Department of Defense Patriot Award. The Patriot Award was presented by Nancy Reid Isaak, a volunteer with the Washington Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
“The Patriot Award was created by ESGR to publicly recognize individuals who provide outstanding patriotic support and cooperation to their employees, who like the citizen warriors before them, have answered their nation’s call to serve,” said Isaak. “Supportive supervisors are critical to maintaining the strength and readiness of the nation’s Guard and Reserve units.”
“He [Steve] is an Air Force veteran and understands that commitment my oath requires,” said Ilea. “He always finds a way to make sure that I can do my drills, TDYs, deployments and any other mission requirements in addition to my job without any complications.”
At the presentation Steve also signed an ESGR Statement of Support. The Statement of Support confirms Mount Spokane Insurance joins other employers in pledging:
“Mount Spokane Insurance joins a cadre of Fortune 500 companies, state and federal, agencies and thousands of America’s employers in demonstrating support for our armed forces,” added Isaak. “By signing the Statement of Support, Mount Spokane Insurance is sending a clear message to its employees that while they are serving their country, they do not have to worry about their civilian jobs.”
ESGR, a Department of Defense program, seeks to foster a culture in which all employers support and value the employment and military service of members of the National Guard and Reserve in the United States. For more information about ESGR outreach programs or volunteer opportunities, call (800) 336-4590 or visit http://www.esgr.mil/WA.
Photo caption 1: Steve Wilson (center) was recently recognized for his support of Washington Air National Guardsman Ilea Wilson (far left), with the Department of Defense Patriot Award. The Patriot Award was presented by Nancy Reid Isaak (far right), a volunteer with the Washington Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
Photo 2: Mount Spokane Insurance CEO Steve Wilson signing an ESGR Statement of Support at the presentation of his ESGR Patriot Award.