Marquette DNR Conservation Officer received the state’s Patriot Award

Sergeant Mark Leadman, a Conservation Officer for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in Marquette, was presented with a Patriot Award by Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve today.

The ESGR program is a function of the US Department of Defense. The Patriot Award is presented to supervisors who go above and beyond the call of duty to work alongside experienced employees.

DNR Conservation Officer Jeremy Sergey, a US Coast Guard reserve member, initiated an application for the award. Leadman was surprised by the award today at DNR’s Marquette Customer Service Center.

“Being a member of the reservation is very difficult for families as they have to take advantage of days off for drill, time away from family and the stress of operations. These stressors can be amplified when a member has a manager or organization that does not understand the sacrifices that the reserve member makes to fulfill his or her duties as a reserve member,” Sergey said. “Sgt. Leadman has gone above and beyond what is required by law when managing members like me. The simple fact that he shifts my long weekends to practice weekends so I don’t have to take unpaid military leave or annual leave is a tremendous stress reliever for me.

“When I went into active duty, he offered my wife the job of mowing the grass in the summer and shoveling the driveway in the winter. When I went home to drill with a new baby, he checked on my family. He cares about my well-being. The Patriot Award is designed to recognize such examples of genuine leadership. I felt it my duty, Sgt. Leadman, as he set the standard for what all superiors who have military reserve subordinates should aspire to.”

According to the ESGR website, a staffer serving in the National Guard or Reserve, or the spouse of a Guard or Reserve member, may appoint individual supervisors and supervisors who are made directly available to the nominating service member and their family.

“The Patriot Award reflects the efforts made to assist Civil War fighters through a wide range of actions, including flexible schedules, pre- and post-deployment time off, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence when needed,” it said the site.

Patriot Awards are presented to individual managers, not to an entire staff or organization.

From 1988 to 1991, Leadman was stationed in Aschaffenburg, Germany and assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, where he maintained, drove and operated rocket launcher vehicles.

Leadman followed in his father’s and both his uncles’ footsteps by serving in the armed forces and always had his heart set on being a conservation officer.

Leadman served in the US Army and Army Reserves for a total of six years and currently oversees conservation officers in Baraga and Marquette counties. He has been with the DNR Law Enforcement Division for over 24 years.

The ESGR program was created in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between members of the Reserve Component Service and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee’s military engagement.

According to the program’s website, “ESGR is supported by a network of more than 3,000 volunteers on 54 committees in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam-CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Volunteers, who have backgrounds in small business and industry, government, education and former military service, bring a tremendous wealth of experience to serve employers, service members and their families.

“Together with ESGR headquarters staff and a small cadre of support staff for each State Committee, volunteers work to promote and enhance employer support for military service in the Guards and Reserves.”

The Michigan DNR Law Enforcement Division is a 2022 Silver-level Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency Veteran-Friendly Employer.

Learn more about the ESGR and its Patriot Award. Watch a video Illustrating the mission of the program.

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