Sheriff receives federal award for supporting employees in military reserves

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New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon was presented the U.S. Department of Defense Patriot Award. From left is Joseph J. Albanese, Deputy Eliot Suggs and McMahon. Photo by Christina Haley.
New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon was presented the U.S. Department of Defense Patriot Award. In the photo, from left, is Chairman of Employer Support of the National Guard and Reserve for Southeastern North Carolina Joseph J. Albanese, Deputy Eliot Suggs and McMahon. Photo by Christina Haley.

New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon has received an award honoring his dedication to sheriff’s office employees who serve in the military.

McMahon was presented the U.S. Department of Defense “Patriot Award” at the sheriff’s office on Tuesday by Joseph J. Albanese, area chairman of Employer Support of the National Guard and Reserve (ESGR) in Southeastern North Carolina. The sheriff was nominated for the award by Deputy Eliot Suggs, who is also a military service member.

“Sheriff McMahon is a worthy recipient of this prestigious award as exhibited by his strong support of our military reserve members, who go in harm’s way to protect our freedom,” Albanese said. “The ESGR strongly supports the work that all police and public safety agencies do to protect our lives, our freedom and our values.”

Suggs, a deputy at the county detention facility and lieutenant with the N.C. Army National Guard, said he nominated the sheriff because of the support McMahon has for military personnel working at the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office.

“I’ve had some previous employers who would struggle with allowing us to go to drill or coming back from drill. It would be an uneasy transition,” Suggs said. “Working for the sheriff’s office, I have no resistance whatsoever. My military service has always been fully supported. It has been a blessing to me.”

As a member of the N.C. Army National Guard, Suggs said he is in training at least once a month for his drills, which means he is off-duty with the sheriff’s office anywhere from about 15 to 20 days a year. Suggs can transition easily between his service to the local community and service to the country.

“It makes it seamless, because I can leave here when needed. They have no trouble giving me the days off. I can come right back in, and fall in line with my work. And it’s easy,” Suggs said.

Suggs enlisted with the N.C. Army Reserve in May 2012 and has been working with the sheriff’s office for more than a year.

McMahon said the sheriff’s office has 20 working military personnel within all branches, including the U.S. Marine Reserves, the Army Reserves and National Guard.

“We absolutely support any time that our country needs our reserves,” McMahon said. “We do everything we can to make it the smoothest transition away and coming back. It’s important that we look at our solders when they come back to us and make sure they’re good, they re-enter back into the community and with their families. So we, the Sheriff’s Office, we support anything we can possibly do to make it as smooth a transition as possible.”

According to New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Lt. Jerry Brewer, any military personnel who work at the sheriff’s office and need time off for military duty do not use leave time.

The National Committee for Employer Support for the National Guard and Reserve is a U.S. Department of Defense agency established in 1972 that includes more than 4,600 volunteers in all 50 states and in Washington D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The mission of the ESGR is to gain and maintain employer support for members of the National Guard and Reserve by recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of the the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 and resolving conflicts through mediation, Albanese said. The ESGR has more than 120 volunteers across North Carolina dedicated to supporting every citizen soldier in the state.

For more information about the ESGR, its programs and volunteer opportunities, click here.