Black Bear Off Road recognized for support of citizen warriors

Photo courtesy of Brian Shaw

TAYLOR COUNTY—A local business was recently recognized for their outstanding support and value of their employees serving in the National Guard and Reserves in the United States military.

On Tuesday, Brian Shaw, Program Coordinator for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), visited Black Bear Off Road to present owners Michael Shaffer and Jaron Freeman with an award for their continued backing of West Virginia Army National Guard Staff Sergeant Michael McDaniel.

Staff Sergeant (SSG) McDaniel serves as a fabricator at Black Bear Off Road but is ready to answer the call of his country if and when he is needed. Noting that the commitments that come along with serving can sometimes be cumbersome, he sought out to recognize his bosses.

“I realize that military commitments can sometimes be a strain on my employers, and I really wanted to recognize Black Bear Off Road for their support and accommodation of my military career,” voiced McDaniel.

To do so, he nominated the business to receive the Service Member Patriot Award. 

The Patriot award is a recognition that reflects the efforts made to support citizen warriors through a wide range of measures including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families and granting leaves of absence if needed, according to www.esgr.mil/Employer-Awards/Patriot-Award.

Shaw said that experience of presenting Shaffer and Freeman with the ESGR’s Patriot Award was made even more special because of the history he has with not only the business owners but with McDaniel, as well.

“Today is special for me, I enlisted SSG McDaniel when I was a recruiter for the West Virginia National Guard quite a few years ago. Also, I’ve been friends with the owners of Black Bear Off Road since we were all kids,” he explained. “I’m in the unique position to recognize them all for their example of an exemplary relationship between service member and employer.”

ESGR, a Department of Defense Program, has served the country for more than 45 years, working to foster a culture in which the employment and military service of workers is both supported and valued. 

In fact, it is their mission to develop and promote supportive work environments for service members in the Reserve Components through outreach, recognition and educational opportunities that increase awareness of applicable laws.  

The program also aids in resolving conflicts between the service members and their employers, should the need arise.

“Military service is largely a joint effort,” Shaw voiced. “Service members are supported by a network of family members and civilian employers who share the load of the modern fighting force. All of those involved deserve recognition for their sacrifices.”

It is the belief of ESGR that citizen warriors could not defend and protect their country at home and abroad without the continued promise of meaningful civilian employment for themselves and their families. 

“Black Bear Off Road has also signed a statement of support advocating military service within their company,” divulged Shaw. “In return, we post businesses who have made the pledge to our website to be shown on a national map. This provides job seekers a list of local employers who are Guard, Reserve, and veteran friendly.”

He noted that the first Statement of Support was signed December 13, 1972, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense by the Chairman of the Board of General Motors, and since its inception, hundreds of thousands of employers have signed Statements of Support, pledging their support to Guard and Reserve employees.

“It’s an honor to be recognized. I’ve always been an avid supporter of the military and it’s a pleasure to have SSG McDaniel on our team,” expressed Shaffer of his recognition.

Black Bear Off Road, located at 3315 George Washington Highway, is a full-service off-road facility, offering metal fabrication, cages, bumpers, parts, accessories, service, maintenance, vinyl wraps and much more. 

For more information, the business can be reached by phone at 304-903-4522.

“Just as SSG McDaniel has done, we encourage all reserve component soldiers who have an outstanding employer to nominate them for an award,” Shaw imparted. “Nominations may be made via our website, esgr.mil.”

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