When Cpl. Ron Keel of the deployed to Iraq in March 2010, he credited his employer with ensuring a smooth transition to his National Guard service.
Keel served for a year overseas as a criminal investigator. After returning, he nominated Clayton police, Chief Tom Byrne and Assistant Chief Kevin Murphy for an award through Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, which recognizes cities that support employees who are National Guard members or Reserve soldiers. They received recognition as nominees July 10 this year during a meeting of the Board of Aldermen.
"We appreciate your service to our country, and we are very honored with this award," Mayor Linda Goldstein told Keel during the announcement.
Keel has served with the U.S. Army in some capacity—active duty, Reserve or National Guard—since 1986.
Clayton police offered to make up for any loss in pay Keel took during his first six months of deployment, he said. They also helped transfer his health insurance from the city to the Army and held onto his vacation and sick time.
Byrne and Murphy attended Tuesday's ceremony, as did Bob Schure with Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
The U.S. military relies heavily on citizen soldiers, Keel said. So he took note of the help Clayton offered.
"My department did an over-and-above job of trying to take that pressure off of me," Keel said.
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