Western Michigan University IT specialist Erik Conover, a U.S. Army sergeant, has been deployed with the military three times since he started working at the university 10 years ago.
Not only was his job waiting for him when he returned home each time, but he also received care packages from co-workers in his department, care packages from the university and well-wishing e-mails to him and his family while he was away.
“It isn’t (the treatment) other people received. Some people come back and the companies don’t give their jobs back. I have friends in law enforcement who didn’t get their jobs back,” said Conover, 47, who was deployed to Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan while working at WMU. “We had one hiccup with my benefits and as soon as WMU knew about it, they corrected it and every time I call them saying I am ready to start again, they act like I was gone on vacation.”
It was that support that led him to nominate WMU and President John M. Dunn for an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Patriot Award last July, after returning from a year-long tour in Afghanistan. He said besides supporting him, his colleagues kept in close contact and did small favors for his wife while he was away.